Many Murfreesboro residents have at some time traveled Old Fort Parkway near the I-24 overpass, done a double-take and said something to the effect of, “What is that crazy clown doing?” upon first seeing Crazy Clown.
The kooky character is the advertising plan for All American Cafe, and he can often be spotted in the general vicinity of the restaurant riding his tricycle, dancing and waving or displaying a sign promoting the burgers and breakfast plates offered at the establishment.
“Action advertising was always on my mind,” said Ron Akbari, who opened the All American Cafe with his wife about five years ago. “I had an orange outfit I got in Vegas. I never wore it, it was just in the closet. . . . I first put the clothes on myself, and put the clown mask on.”
Akbari hit the streets to promote his business, but soon realized the bulk of his time needed to be spent in the restaurant and, soon, another individual assumed the role of the clown. From there, the character took on a life of his own.
“He is one of my good friends,” said Akbari. “I told him if I open another store, it will be his; he is working for his own store.”
The clown has attracted a lot of attention to the restaurant over the years.
“People would come in and say, ‘Who’s that crazy clown?’” relates Akbari, who came to the U.S. from Iran in 2001 with only $11 in his pocket. “So customers put that name on him, Crazy Clown, and he accepted it.”
The clown’s identity is a secret. Among the few details Akbari provides about the man in the makeup is that he has seven years of acting experience.
“He’s a character, this is his passion. . . . And he won’t talk to you; that’s his policy,” Akbari said, adding that the clown can communicate a great deal without using language.
It’s not always easy being the clown.
“Sometimes people throw stuff at him—rocks, ketchup,” Akbari said. “He’s been in a fight once; someone gave him the finger and he reacted.”
But he is generally a good-natured clown, peddling over the Interstate, stopping to wave, listening to music, dancing around.
“When the weather is good, it’s good to go out,” Akbari said.
“This is the fourth bike we’ve bought for him,” Akbari continued, pointing to the newest three-wheeled pedal-powered vehicle—the clown’s trademark mode of transportation—sitting in the cafe next to the doughnut counter.
The All American Cafe staff emphasizes their place is not just all about the clown, though.
“We want people to enjoy the food. Come and try it,” Akbari said, encouraging some cafe visitors to try a grilled doughnut before giving them a sample of the cranberry-walnut-celery chicken salad.
“His job is to bring the people in, our job is to cook the food,” Akbari said.
So stop into the All American Cafe sometime, grab a doughnut, a Philly cheesesteak, a chicken salad or a breakfast burrito, and tell ’em Crazy sent you.