An Italian restaurant in New Mexico has sparked outrage after advertising a food special through a play on words of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Albuquerque-based Paisano’s faced criticism after hanging the words “Black Olives Matter — Try Our Tapenade” on its marquee to advertise its latest special, ahi tuna with tapenade. Although restaurant owner Rick Camuglia told NBC affiliate KOB he thought the sign was a “cute play on words,” several people found the pun insensitive, and aired their grievances on Paisano’s Facebook page.
The phrase, posted on the sign last week, comes at a time when the nation is reeling from both the shooting deaths of black men by police, and the subsequent deadly targeting of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. One user called the sign “tacky & hideous,” while another wrote, “As a woman of color I find your posting offensive and in very bad taste. You simply wish to rub salt in an ugly festering wound which evil minded people refuse to allow to heal.”
Other patrons, however, defended the advertisement. “Go Trump 2016. Love the olives and the pizza!!!” one user wrote.
Paisano’s has since removed the sign and the photo of it from social media. The restaurant crew put up a statement on its Facebook page on July 15, saying the controversy helped business.
“Since Wednesday, July 13th, we have been inundated with positive, supportive phone calls from the community as well as overwhelmed with business, not only from our ‘regulars’, but from so many new customers who came from Albuquerque, surrounding cities, and even neighboring States simply to support us,” the statement said.
The flood of patrons also showed support for the restaurant by adding black olives to their orders.
“Many have a unique way to show solidarity,” the statement said. “I can’t count the number of customer’s orders who’ve included adding Black Olives to every dish ordered. Pizzas, Sandwiches and pasta dishes with “double Black Olives Please!” all day long. So much that we almost ran out and ordered more.”
Camuglia said he was shocked by the angry responses to the sign, but that he does not regret posting it and feels no need to apologize to those offended, KOB reports.
“I think it shows an interesting state of affairs of where our country is that people, first of all, can be offended by a statement about a vegetable,” he said. “Black olives matter, and it does matter in our tapenade.”