My Hamburger Mary’s STL Experiences

Terrence Stokes was mistreated by David Pardue
Terrence Stokes was mistreated by David Pardue

My issue with cancel culture in St. Louis is that it’s too often co-opted by someone trying to settle a score. Of course that’s what’s brought the long-simmering tensions at Hamburger Mary’s St. Louis to a head. 

Gay Republican Matt Schiermeier got angry at Just John’s Kareem Lahai-Pumagoi over a Facebook debate and called owner John O. Arnold to try to get him fired. When that didn’t work he vowed to have his followers destroy Just John online, but instead aimed his fire at Krista Versace, who had been defending Kareem. Schiermeier was successful in costing Versace her job at Hamburger Mary’s. 

I’ve been hesitant about bringing up my own issues with Hamburger Mary’s owner David Pardue because they’re not nearly as interesting as many of the other testimonials, and I didn’t want to appear I was trying to settle my own score. I decided, however, that all of our perspectives are needed at this time. 

I was invited to bring an entourage to their soft opening, and a dear friend of mine by the name of Terrence Stokes was one of my guests. Terrence is Black and I felt he was disrespected on that basis. Everyone was served but him, and he approached Pardue to inquire about his order. Attempting to talk over the loud music, Stokes explained that everyone else had been served half an hour earlier. Pardue shrugged and said everything was free since it was a trial run, and gave no indication he would check on the order. He then asked Stokes, “Why are you shouting? Who brought you?” 

I can attest that Terrence was simply talking over the music. He was in no way shouting. 

Then and there I determined Pardue was not cut out for the hospitality business, and I’ve never been dissuaded of that belief. Still, I did what I could to support the business because it’s such a spectacular venue and is, to my knowledge, the only place in town where a drag queen can earn a full-time living practicing her craft. And despite the owner’s apparent flaws, it was still a “family” owned business. 

That support included running their press releases, patronizing the establishment, and planning a big magazine event there. 

Normally venues roll out the red carpet when you’re planning to bring people to their space, but Pardue made it clear he didn’t care. On at least two occasions when I went to see him in advance of the event he left me and an associate sitting there and never came out. The event was cancelled due to COVID, and the truth is I was relieved. I didn’t know how I was supposed to host in an environment where I myself didn’t even feel welcome. 

Pardue called my friend Janessa Highland “garbage” and even though she’s Miss Gay Missouri America 2018, and Miss Gay Missouri America paid to rent Hamburger Mary’s for their pageant, he banned her from participating because of his personal dislike of her. To Jade Sincair’s credit she objected to the unfairness, although the decision was not overturned. 

Stories worse than mine continue to cascade out and show no signs of slowing. Stepping back I see that I should have written off Hamburger Mary’s much sooner. I wanted to see them succeed and I tried to ignore the elephant in the room. That was wrong.

In summary, I believe David Pardue created a spectacular venue for St. Louis but is profoundly ill-suited to run the day-to-day operations. I think he, the business and the community would be better served if he either sold Hamburger Mary’s St. Louis, or hired a community-oriented and hospitality-minded professional to operate it and then stayed away.

11 Replies to “My Hamburger Mary’s STL Experiences”

  1. Please explain to me why you continue to mention a persons political party? That has NO relevance with the issue at hand. Why not just state the issue and conduct yourself as an adult vs a butt hurt drag queen? It is a known fact that Krista has offended and harassed many people in the gay community. I just dont understand why so many members of the community commit hate crimes towards one another? The community cries about wanting equal rights but conduct themselves as vicious, pompous highschool kids.

  2. Since Mr. Pardue is a Franchisee, it would be great if you forwarded your observations to the Corporate Owners of Hamburger Mary’s.

  3. Sometimes the truth hurts. If he did call Janessa trash he isn’t the first one. She is the most vile Miss Gay Missouri that there has ever been. She has made the Miss Gay Missouri reigns of the winners after her miserable even to the point that she was removed from the board. Peyton was asked to not be in Marys because of her drug use but back to Janessa what a joke she has burnt bridges everywhere. David may be an ass hole but he is not racist or transphobic. Krista has been known to attack multiple people on line and was warned about the social media policy multiple times. Who cares if the guy is a Republican if the hate has been the other way there would be an outcry. Keep destroying your community before long y’all will be doing drag in your living rooms.

  4. Unbelievable. You’ve left the entire truth out and created a whole new narrative to somehow make Krista some sort of victim. Krista got herself fired. Hamburger Mary’s contacted that individual. Dave already made a statement regarding that.
    One isolated incident does not get a person fired from their job. A series of incidences and failures do however.
    Also, this isn’t about Krista “outing” Matt’s status, it’s Krista making derogatory comments about people living with HIV and those who have suffered from drug addiction.
    Another fact, Hamburger Mary’s gave Krista the option to publicly apologize for her derogatory remarks (about HIV) or lose her job. Krista chose to walk away. Choosing her last words as she walked out of his office to be,
    “Those AIDS infested faggots deserve it”
    She got her self fired. Essentially, she left.
    Her ego wouldn’t allow her to just say, “I’m sorry“.
    Yes, drag queens participate in an act, and some of them act like a bitch on stage. That doesn’t give them the right to be a disgusting person in real life.
    The only thing Matt did was STAND up for himself.
    She’s a bully, and anyone defending her actions is condoning and perpetuating bullying.
    From my understanding, Matt and Kareem had a heart to heart. Kareem called Matt because Matt left his number VIA Facebook. I believe all Matt wanted to do was sort things out like adults versus a blasted status where people on Kareem’s post wished him dead. There was no intent to have anyone fired, ever.

    Your story continues to blast Matt as a gay republican? You may want to check those facts as well. I know him personally, and I’m pretty sure he isn’t a republican. He’s always been an independent thinker with liberal leaning views.
    I’m sorry, but Krista is not a victim here.

  5. Unbelievable. You’ve left the entire truth out and created a whole new narrative to somehow make Krista some sort of victim. Krista got herself fired. Hamburger Mary’s contacted that individual. Dave already made a statement regarding that.
    One isolated incident does not get a person fired from their job. A series of incidences and failures do however.
    Also, this isn’t about Krista “outing” Matt’s status, it’s Krista making derogatory comments about people living with HIV and those who have suffered from drug addiction.
    Another fact, Hamburger Mary’s gave Krista the option to publicly apologize for her derogatory remarks (about HIV) or lose her job. Krista chose to walk away. Choosing her last words as she walked out of his office to be,
    “Those AIDS infested faggots deserve it”
    She got her self fired. Essentially, she left.
    Her ego wouldn’t allow her to just say, “I’m sorry“.
    Yes, drag queens participate in an act, and some of them act like a bitch on stage. That doesn’t give them the right to be a disgusting person in real life.
    The only thing Matt did was STAND up for himself.
    She’s a bully, and anyone defending her actions is condoning and perpetuating bullying.
    From my understanding, Matt and Kareem had a heart to heart. Kareem called Matt because Matt left his number VIA Facebook. I believe all Matt wanted to do was sort things out like adults versus a blasted status where people on Kareem’s post wished him dead. There was no intent to have anyone fired, ever.

  6. You’ve left the entire truth out and created a whole new narrative to somehow make Krista some sort of victim. Krista got herself fired. Hamburger Mary’s contacted that individual. Dave already made a statement regarding that.
    One isolated incident does not get a person fired from their job. A series of incidences and failures do however.
    Also, this isn’t about Krista “outing” Matt’s status, it’s Krista making derogatory comments about people living with HIV and those who have suffered from drug addiction.
    Another fact, Hamburger Mary’s gave Krista the option to publicly apologize for her derogatory remarks (about HIV) or lose her job. Krista chose to walk away. Choosing her last words as she walked out of his office to be,
    “Those AIDS infested faggots deserve it”
    She got her self fired. Essentially, she left.
    Her ego wouldn’t allow her to just say, “I’m sorry“.
    Yes, drag queens participate in an act, and some of them act like a bitch on stage. That doesn’t give them the right to be a disgusting person in real life.
    The only thing Matt did was STAND up for himself.
    She’s a bully, and anyone defending her actions is condoning and perpetuating bullying.
    From my understanding, Matt and Kareem had a heart to heart. Kareem called Matt because Matt left his number VIA Facebook. I believe all Matt wanted to do was sort things out like adults versus a blasted status where people on Kareem’s post wished him dead. There was no intent to have anyone fired, ever.

  7. Your story continues to blast Matt as a gay republican? You may want to check those facts as well. I know him personally, and I’m pretty sure he isn’t a republican. He’s always been an independent thinker with liberal leaning views.
    I’m sorry, but Krista is not a victim here.

  8. One isolated incident does not get a person fired. Several incidences, bad behavior, and failures is what gets someone fired..
    Krista got herself fired, period .
    Her actions have consequences too. Just like the rest of us
    Matt isn’t even a republican. This article is all lies . Do better

  9. Nothing more than drag queen and trannies drama in STL. He is bringing money to STL with his business from straight bridal parties. As a fellow gay business owner, I support him.

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