Patrons rallied around a restaurant owner in Massachusetts after he received a one-star Yelp review that focused on a small LGBT pride flag hanging in his storefront and barely mentioned anything else.
Nino Barbalace, the owner of Caffe Zia Gianna in Dorchester, always wanted his restaurant to be a welcoming place for all.
He recently noticed a one-star Yelp review and wondered what the customer was upset about.
In the review, which has since been taken down, the person said, “After seeing the rainbow flag in the window, I’ve had it with this place and have thrown in the towel…Well, that flag says all and when you delve deeper to see the real customer base here, it’s clearly geared and catered ONLY to those who rally behind the rainbow flag.”
“It was personal,” Barbalace told Boston 25. “If you go to a place and you’re not happy with the food or the service, I understand that if I made a mistake because we all make mistakes. This is a restaurant, not politics.”
The Yelp reviewer wrote that the food is “decent” but that he could “no longer accept patronizing this establishment.”
Yelp's content guidelines state that reviews "aren't the place for rants about a business' employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don't address the core of the consumer experience."
The restaurant owner, who was born in Italy, posted a screenshot of the Yelp review on Facebook and said “all are welcome at Zia Gianna, even this gentleman.”
His customers rallied around him.
“We thought we were beyond that at this point,” Tiffany Andrade, a customer, told the Boson Fox affiliate.
Andrade specifically came to the cafe Friday to show her support.
“Luckily we live in the land of the free and people are entitled to their own opinion, but I do think it’s something to understand that we are an open community and there are people who come from all different countries and all different backgrounds and we should be welcoming of everyone,” said Andrade.
“It’s unfortunate that some people are so small minded! Keep it up! You’re doing a great job and what a classy response to this ignorant jerk,” wrote another customer on Facebook.
Another wrote: “No one should have to deal with this. We love everyone there. You guys are great.”
Meanwhile, the LGBT pride flag remains and Barbalace said he’s willing to give the one-star reviewer a second chance.
“I’m here to serve the food. If he is hungry, he is welcome to come here,” Barbalace said.