SF pizza joint can’t escape backlash over police incident

by admin

After a San Francisco pizza restaurant received backlash when an employee allegedly refused to serve a group of police officers, the restaurant’s decision to fire that employee set off an even bigger firestorm.

The saga began Sunday evening, when the San Francisco Police Officers Association tweeted that an employee of Pizza Squared on Brannan Street “told several of our officers that they were not welcome in the restaurant.” San Francisco and other cities saw protests over the weekend after Memphis officials released a video of police officers beating Tyre Nichols, a Black man, during a traffic stop, which resulted in Nichols’ death.

SFPOA wrote that it “notified the owners of the restaurant of the shameful and hateful actions of one of their employees,” and that Pizza Squared’s owners issued a “swift apology.”

Despite the apology, the police union’s tweet prompted a handful of negative Yelp reviews for Pizza Squared, in which users criticized the restaurant for not supporting police. The police union did not respond to an SFGATE request for comment. As of Tuesday morning, Yelp has listed a warning on the restaurant’s page that reads, “This business is being monitored by Yelp’s Support team for content related to media reports.”

“Why do you hate cops?” wrote Yelp user Christian A. of Sunnyvale. “What is wrong with you, Who do you think you are? Never doing business with this company.”

“Would never eat here after reading comments by employee who disparaged sfpd,” wrote Ruthie N. of Lafayette. “Stupid ownership deserves bad reviews if they don’t fire that clerk.”

Ruthie N. apparently got her wish, as Pizza Squared wrote back to the police union on Twitter on Monday morning. A message posted by the restaurant read: “This employee was a trainee & on his third day. When our shift manager told us about the incident after it happened, we expressly told him we didn’t share his views & that he was out of line. He was fired at the end of the day. When we notified by SFPOA, we apologized.”

This set off a furor on Twitter, opposite from the kerfuffle on Yelp, in which users trashed the company for firing the employee.

“Wow, you sound like an awful company to work for!” tweeted activist Sasha Perigo.

“Boot-flavored pizza, anyone? [tongue emoji] [boot emoji] [pizza emoji],” wrote another user.

In an email to SFGATE, owner Ryan Siu wrote, “The employee was let go because of his mistreatment of a customer, not over the police. We are happy to serve anyone who walks in with a smile. We don’t [have] anything else to say.”

It’s not the first time a San Francisco food spot has found itself at the center of the city’s never-ending battle between police supporters and critics. In May of last year, Joe’s Ice Cream in the Richmond District held an “Ice Cream with a Cop” event, which received so much blowback that the owner told SFGATE she’d never hold a similar event again.

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