Metro Weekly

Boston restaurant given one-star review for ‘treasonous’ Pride flag in window

Yelp reviewer said Caffe Zia Gianna's support for LGBTQ people should be "punishable as a crime"

Caffe Zia Gianna — Photo: Kelly Sullivan / Twitter

A Boston restaurant received a one-star review on Yelp simply because it had a small LGBTQ Pride flag in its window.

Caffe Zia Gianna was targeted by a Yelp user who complained that displaying the flag “should be considered treason” and “punishable as a crime.”

“After seeing the rainbow flag in the window, I’ve had it with this place and have thrown in the towel,” the user, who has since deleted the post, wrote. They complained that “only the owner himself happens to be Sicilian or Italian” before targeting the restaurant’s customers.

“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,” they continued. “This should be considered treason against our Nation and our Italian Heritage…and should be punishable as a crime.”

The reviewer complained that, “at a time when [Italy] is imperiled from corruption and fading family units,” owner Nino Barbalace was “abandoning the sound family unite and structure. Absolutely disgusting and unacceptable.”

They then state that “after learning what I learned now, I can no longer accept patronizing this establishment.”

Caffe Zia Gianna responded on Facebook to the post, saying that all are welcome, “even this gentleman. We’d love to show him some kindness from the LGBTQ community because love always wins.”

All are welcome at Zia Gianna, even this gentleman. We’d love to show him some kindness from the LGBTQ community because love always wins.

Posted by Caffe Zia Gianna on Monday, August 13, 2018

Speaking to Boston 25 News, Barbalace said the review “was personal.”

“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,” he said. “This is a restaurant, not politics.”

He noted that the restaurant had no intention of removing the Pride flag from the window, and that the doors are open should the reviewer wish to come back.

“I’m here to serve the food, if he is hungry, he is welcome to come here,” Barbalace said.

Yelp was recently in the news for another anti-LGBTQ moment, after an Atlanta-based landscaper refused to work with a gay couple due to their “very perverse and foolish” marriage.

Stuart Dinenno of Botanica Atlanta Landscape Design responded to a review by the couple confirming he had refused to work with them, adding that he wouldn’t “[go] along with the delusion of two men calling themselves a married couple.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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