In a sad development for animal-friendly dining, PETA’s dream of turning the former house of one of America’s most notorious serial killers into a vegan restaurant has today officially been axed.
After discovering last week that the childhood home of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was back on the Akron, Ohio, housing market, the folks over at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals floated the idea of converting it into a trendy eatery.
Known as the “Milwaukee Cannibal,” Dahmer raped, murdered, dismembered 17 men and boys from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, posthumously consuming some of them. The home in Ohio was where Dahmer killed his first victim.
In a letter delivered last week to the property’s realtor, Richard Lubinski, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said that establishing a vegan restaurant in the house — a 2,100-square-foot, three-bed, 2.5-bath, single-family residential unit, located in the high-end suburb of Bath — would be ideal.
[body_image src='//news-images.vice.com/images/2014/04/08/peta-will-not-be-turning-dahmer-home-into-a-vegan-restaurant-article-body-image-1396984699.jpeg' width='622' height='480']
The West Bath Road childhood home of Jeffrey Dahmer in Bath Township, Ohio. Photo by Richard Lubinski.
Newkirk described how Dahmer would drug, bind, and slaughter his victims, refrigerating them to eat later, and noted that the horrifying violence he practiced did not end with his death (he was brutally murdered in prison) — billions of animals, she said, are similarly slaughtered for human consumption each year in the US.
“We are always looking for ways to draw attention to the violence inherent in the production of meat, eggs, and milk — which involve processes that would shock all but the most hard-hearted person,” the letter read. “Dahmer's old house gives us a way to evoke sympathy for these victims and to suggest that a life-affirming diet can change everything.”
Lindsay Rajt, PETA’s associate director of campaigns, told VICE News that PETA had thought of calling the restaurant “Eat for Life: Home Cooking,” and that it would have served tasty menu items like chipotle barbecue tofu kebabs and vegan creamy fake-chicken casserole — along with a healthy side-order of anti-animal cruelty rhetoric.
“Our vision was to use this as a way to point out to people that animals are made of flesh and blood, and experience pain and fear, and value their lives, just like we do,” she said.
But because of some thorny zoning issues, she said, PETA decided on Tuesday to abandon the project.
“We were very enthusiastic about the project and excited to move forward with it, but unfortunately it looks like that’s not going to be possible,” she said.
Lubinski, who had remarked to the Akron Beacon Journal that he regarded PETA’s offer “as a serious lead,” is now calling bullshit. He told VICE News that he believed this was just the latest in a long-line of brazen PETA publicity stunts.
“PETA has no interest in the property,” he said. “It was a publicity stunt. I got notification from them yesterday that they had no interest in the property.”
Lubinski seemed disappointed that PETA’s enthusiasm was feigned. He pointed out that the property, which is built on the side of a hill, is quite nice.
“Other than Dahmer living there, it’s just a normal house,” he said. “The house didn’t kill anybody. It’s going to be a fabulous home for someone.”
PETA insists that this wasn’t a stunt, however.
“We were sincerely hoping we could turn this into a restaurant,” Rajt said, “but we determined, unfortunately, that it's just not feasible."
Bath Township Zoning Inspector and Administrator William Funk explained to VICE News why a restaurant in the house would probably never work. The property is in a residential zone of medium to low population density.
“Restaurant use would not be permitted, nor conditionally permitted,” he said. “They would need to go for a re-zoning, or they would need to go for a use variance for the property,” which would authorize it to be used non-residentially.
“There’s a lot of hurdles they’d have to clear to get that property re-zoned or obtain a use variance,” Funk said.
The house has a well-water and septic system, for one, and another issue is the lack of parking access. PETA would have had to apply for the re-zoning or use variance, make necessary (and costly) renovations, and then appear before the Zoning Board again. The process for post-renovation approval usually takes anywhere from 60 to 90 days, Funk said.
The home is currently listed for $295,000, Lubinski said. Anyone interested in purchasing it for something other than a restaurant should call him up.