April Fools’ Day prank turns into fundraiser

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 10, 2018

 Andy Chapman and Shane Hudson hold the banner they created and hung on Como’s Restaurant to fool people into thinking that a new Mexican restaurant and brewery was coming to the location.

Andy Chapman and Shane Hudson hold the banner they created and hung on Como’s Restaurant to fool people into thinking that a new Mexican restaurant and brewery was coming to the location.

Photo by Donna Agusti

FERNDALE — An April Fools’ Day prank that was able to convince people and several media outlets that a new Mexican restaurant and brewery was taking over the former Como’s Restaurant location has now turned into a small fundraiser.

On March 22, a Facebook page was created for a new restaurant called El Tontos Cervecería and Cocina, which branded itself as a Mexican restaurant and brewery. A banner soon was seen afterward at Como’s, 22812 Woodward Ave., with the supposed eatery’s logo.

The page also said that a big announcement was coming soon about the business in the next week, with another stating that patrons will love the “transformed outdoor area” and the lower level will be climate controlled year-round.

Unfortunately, the announcement that came was that the brewery wasn’t real, but an April Fools’ Day prank at the hands of Shane Hudson and Andy Chapman, who both work for Kramer Restaurant Group, which owns Pop's for Italian, One-Eyed Betty’s and Rosie O’Grady’s.

Hudson said the two were looking to play a prank, and with so much speculation on what will replace Como’s, they decided to craft an idea around creating a fake business.

A social media manager and event coordinator for Kramer, Hudson said that what he saw from people online was that they want a Mexican restaurant at the location.

“We figured that that would get the most response,” he said.

The two decided to create a 6-foot banner stating that a restaurant was coming soon, such as a Taco Bell Cantina because, as Hudson put it, “That would make people super furious. Anything that’s, like, corporate or chain gets people riled up here.”

Deciding against potentially putting themselves in an iffy legal spot, Chapman created a logo for “El Tontos Cervecería and Cocina.” “Tontos” translates from Spanish to “Fools,” and Hudson said they specifically used the wrong spanish article — “El” instead of “Los.”

“I just fired up a Facebook there, posted a Facebook post and kind of just left it alone,” he said. 

Hudson said the page didn’t get many likes between then and March 31. Only during the weekend of April Fools’ Day did the page start getting attention.

“On Sunday night, it looked like it was pretty much debunked. Everyone kind of figured it out in the forums. So I went to bed like, ‘Well, this is over. I’ll come clean in the morning.’ I woke up to, like, five text messages with the Metro Times link, and it kind of just spread from there. At that point, I’m like, ‘I gotta kill it before it gets too big and people get really pissed off,’” he said.

A post on the El Tontos Facebook page April 2 owned up to the prank. 

Como’s, which has been closed since the fall after health code violations forced it to shut down, remains uninhabited, but Ferndale Community and Economic Development Director Jordan Twardy said there have been buyers “kicking the tires” on the restaurant.

“Right now, people are looking at it,” he said. “Offers have been made, and when that happens, people, before they make it official, they need to know, ‘What am I able to do on the property? Are there any building department issues?’”

Twardy said there isn’t anything concrete to talk about at the moment, though he did confirm that the offers have been recent.

Meanwhile, Hudson and Chapman decided to use the attention from the prank to sell El Tontos Cervecería and Cocina T-shirts, with all the proceeds going toward Affirmations. The shirts, which cost $20, are available until Monday, April 16, and can be bought at www.bonfire.com/the-fools-turn-it-into-a-fundraiser.

“It went way better than expected,” Hudson said of the prank. “There’s some people who were angry at us still, but I think we got enough laughs and now, you know, supporting something good that I think people are going to forgive us.”