COLUMBUS, Nebraska (The Columbus Telegram) — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was spotted all over Columbus throughout the weekend. Well, at least digitally.
Sanders (D-Vermont) was dressed for comfort rather than fashion when he was photographed at the inauguration for President Joe Biden last week. The photo of him sitting with his legs and arms crossed comfortably has been superimposed into images from all over the world, and numerous Columbus area businesses couldn’t resist getting in on the action.
“The intention was to make people laugh and get a good giggle out of it,” said Christina Meyer, co-owner of Juice Stop, 2334 23rd St. in Columbus.
Meyer and her husband own the Juice Stop locations in Columbus and Fremont. She said it took her just a few minutes to make the local memes using a phone app. She made one where Sanders, 79, is sitting on the counter inside the Columbus store. In the other, she has him sitting on a chair near a step stool that features all of the employees’ names. The staff happened to notice Bernie’s name had been added to it and got a kick out of it, she noted.
In downtown Columbus, Cork & Barrel owner Nicole Saalfeld said she was inspired by seeing others utilize the Sanders’ meme.
“I was seeing a lot of really good ones and I thought it would be fun to have him out in our patio. It got way more response than I was expecting, but I think everyone enjoyed it,” Saalfeld said.
Cork & Barrel, 1354 27th Ave., saw its meme get over 570 likes on Facebook by Monday morning. It also generated plenty of positive comments.
At Big 10 Sports Bar & Grill, 510 23rd St., owners Cory and Stacey Schaefer said they decided to post their own version of the meme after talking with folks at The Oasis, who had done the same.
“The picture came out and the memes started going crazy afterward,” Stacey said. “We thought it was a neat way to give a shout out to some of the other local businesses in town.”
Before the Schaeffers even got the chance to create their own, a patron, Courtney Flaherty-Maas, reached out to them. Her son, 11-year-old Grady of Wayne, made one for the eatery. It shows the state senator sitting at Big 10’s bar, which the owners found humorous.
“We definitely like to have a good time,” Stacey said. “We like being able to have fun and bring positive energy.”
The couple said business has continued to be good, with Cory noting they plan to have a Super Bowl watch party on Feb. 7 with plenty of specials. The TVs, of course, will be showing the game between the defending champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It will be a good atmosphere to watch the Super Bowl,” Cory assured.
The Oasis Bar Manager Darla Moser said she actually got the pub in the Sanders’ mix after seeing Cork & Barrel’s post. Saalfeld helped her out.
“We’re living in a weird time,” Moser said, noting customers have come into the venue jokingly asking if they could have a drink with Bernie. “It’s just something fun. It lightened (things) up a little bit as everyone is so serious about everything right now.”
Sandie Fischer, membership and community engagement director for the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, said she loved seeing numerous local businesses utilize the meme in their marketing.
“I just think it’s a great opportunity. Sometimes you need those moments of laughter with everything going on in the world,” Fischer said. “Hats off to everyone who used that opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Juice Stop’s owners will celebrate their one-year anniversary of being in Columbus this March.
They’re also introducing a new drink this week – “The Golazo,” a soccer term used by Spanish speakers around the world that means “an amazing goal.” The drink, created by Assistant Manager Sophie Kadavy, includes mango, lemonade, Chamoy and Tajin chili powder.
They’ll also continue to enjoy the feedback they’re getting on their Sanders’ memes.
“It’s just hilarious,” she said. “There’s no political background to it. It’s just about having fun and making people laugh.”
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