Paisano’s, an Italian restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is currently dealing with a PR nightmare. The restaurant attempted to advertise for a new special by putting a controversial pun on the marquee outside.
“Black Olives Matter — Try Our Tapenade,” was the phrase placed on the family eatery’s sign and on the restaurant’s Facebook page. It did not take long for photographs of the sign to go viral. That is when many people posted on the restaurant's Facebook page about how offensive and untimely they found the sign.
The restaurant owner, Rick Camuglia, attempted to diffuse the situation by saying, “We use our reader board to promote our specials. We thought it was a cute play on words to promote our special ahi tuna tonight.”
Unfortunately, the issue runs a lot deeper than tuna, and commenters and Facebook agree. Many felt that the sign trivialized and belittled the deaths and racism occurring on a daily basis in this country.
Eventually, even Harold Bailey, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, chimed in with a statement that read:
“The posted sign at Paisano’s Restaurant that included the phrase ‘Black Olives Matter’ is a nice marketing idea. However, with all of the national uproar, demonstrations and marches, regarding the shooting of African American men and youth by police officers, the Albuquerque NAACP feels that it was in bad taste. The decision to take it down is appreciated.
Hopefully the owners at Paisano’s will be a bit more sensitive in the future. The unjustified killing of innocent Black men is nothing to joke about. Whether it was intentional or not, it sent the wrong message to many.
We're sure they would feel the same way if someone had an offensive marketing idea that placed Hispanics, Italians or any other ethnic group in a controversial concept.”
In the wake of the criticism, the restaurant has taken down the pun from the sign and from Facebook. However, the owner remains adamant that the sign was all in good fun and that he has nothing to apologize for.
“I think if that offends some people, a statement about black olives, that somebody needs to reevaluate their politically correct meter,” Camuglia said.
Or maybe you need to reevaluate your timing. Too many Black men and officers have lost lives in this tumultuous racial time. Sure, it’s only tapenade, but the pun brings up pain and hurt for too many people. Defending that sign is like saying that the Confederate flag has nothing to do with slavery.
(Photo: Michael Möller / EyeEm)