A Virginia teen who opened her own business said she’s been targeted by a conservative group in her “Footloose town.”
Tiana Ramos, a 16-year-old high school senior, owns and operates Naught Girls Donut Shop at a shopping mall in her hometown, Front Royal.
She works at the 1950s pinup-themed bakery before and after school, along with other teens dressed in rockabilly-style clothing.
But the store’s name, and its framed artwork featuring photos of Marilyn Monroe and Betty Page, have drawn the ire of “a strong Conservative Alliance group” in the town, accusing Ramos and her business of promoting promiscuous behavior.
Within a week of opening, the teen’s mother said, someone drove past and threw garbage at the door.
“They literally threw trash at the door and said, ‘Naughty girls burn in hell,'” said Natalie Ramos. “I started bawling, right there.”
She decided not to report the incident to police, but she said the harassment continued online – including the crowd-sourced review website Yelp.
“They were talking about how the girls look like hussies,” Natalie Ramos said. “They didn’t talk about the food or the service.”
The site removed those posts at her request, but she soon noticed more negative comments about her daughter’s bakery on Twitter and Facebook.
“They were saying that the shop represents sluts and anyone who works there is promiscuous,” Natalie Ramos said. “It was a lot of negativity that didn’t need to be there.”
The family then received a letter that was also sent to several area businesses, threatening a boycott by “Local Catholics of Front Royal” if they did not stop advertising with a local newspaper.
The group had targeted the Warren County Report over allegedly anti-Catholic articles published by one writer, Roger Bianchini, who has covered clergy sex abuse and efforts to overturn a decades-old ban on fortune telling and other “magic arts.”
The town council voted last month to overturn the ban, which some residents wanted to remain in place “out of fear” of “Satanism.”
“These kinds of businesses do tend to attract, in part, a criminal element,” said resident Mary Stanford. “I don’t like the idea of my kids walking down Main Street and having possibly criminal people lurking around.”
Natalie Ramos said a friend and the mother of a Naughty Girls employee told her they had been asked to boycott the teen’s bakery because its logo featured a stylized devil’s tail.
“I never even noticed the devil’s tail,” Natalie Ramos said. “I thought it was just a curve.”
Opponents of the restaurant also circulated an email accusing Tiana Ramos of trying to exclusively “attract male customers.”
The teen said she hoped the store would be a refuge for anyone who was bullied at school or feels they don’t belong in Front Royal – which she compared to the town that banned dancing in the movie “Footloose.”
“I wish they would actually get to know me, because I’m not the person they think I am,” Tiana Ramos said. “Okay, I have tattoos, and I don’t dress like the good kid that goes to church every Sunday, but I’m a good person.”
The teen was recently awarded a full scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America, and a press release issued by her business said she contributed more than $28,000 to support local business and had donated $2,000 to buy backpacks for school children and $1,000 to churches in her area.
She said her opponents could not convince her to relocate her store.
“Heck no,” Tiana Ramos said. “They’re the reason we’re staying here.”
Watch Tiana Ramos discuss her business in this video posted online by Naughty Girls Donut Shop: