An East Bay deli’s attempt to leverage a national controversy may have backfired last weekend after the owner offered free food to anyone saying “send her back” while placing their order.
John Canesa of Canesa’s Brooklyn Heros, at 6026 Main St. in Clayton, offered a free side dish to anyone who repeated the racist chant that went viral after President Donald Trump’s rally in North Carolina.
The Facebook post also included a joke about making his restaurant’s meatballs out of beef in an apparent jab at Muslims or other groups that avoid pork for religious reasons.
In a series of subsequent comments and responses, he also claimed to have given out at least 65 free sides in connection with the promotion.
“Come and get it we are about to sell out,” Canesa wrote. “I have to post more often!”
That content is no longer accessible to the public, although it is not clear whether it was deleted or Canesa changed the applicable privacy settings.
Canesa’s is typically closed on Mondays, and management could not be reached for comment July 22.
Either way, City Councilwoman Tuija Catalano, who currently serves as mayor, posted a screenshot of the original post in her response.
“We all have rights to our own political, religious, and other opinions. We all have a right to post about them too,” Catalano wrote July 19.
“However, there is no place in our community for hatred and bigotry. When hateful comments are being promoted as part of a local business, they reflect on our community’s reputation. As an … elected official, who is also a woman and foreign-born, I personally find a comment about sending anyone back over their political opinions unacceptable,” Catalano said.
She’s not the only one with something to say about Canesa’s business promotion. Online reviewers have weighed in on both sides of the controversy in a phenomenon often referred to as “Yelp bombing.”
The review platform’s staff have shut down new reviews and posted a notice at the top of the Canesa’s Brooklyn Heros profile indicating that the business’s ratings are being monitored for “content related to media reports.”
Google Maps, however, is still allowing users to post new reviews for the restaurant, many of which appear to be unfavorable in the last few days. There were, however, multiple users who came to the deli’s defense and it’s not yet clear whether this firestorm has helped or hurt the bottom line of the business.