A pair of restaurant owners in Tucson, AZ issued an apology after they posted an angry, pro-Trump post on Facebook that sparked a ferocious backlash and resulted in the departure of one of their business partners.
Tucson.com reported that Christopher Smith and Jay Warren — the owners of Cup it Up American Grill — issued a public statement that said, in part, “Our decision to bring our personal political beliefs into a business forum is regretful, and for this we apologize to all.”
If You Only News said on Saturday that Cup it Up’s Facebook post proclaimed, “We believe in and support 100 percent the following,” with a list including, “OUR PRESIDENT — Donald J. Trump,” “Always Standing for the National Anthem,” “Repealing Obama Care,” “Drug screening for welfare recipients” and “In God We Trust.”
A second list asserted, “We DON’T believe in or support the following,” and included, “Those that DON’T respect our President, Armed Forces and First Responders,” “Kneeling for the National Anthem,” “ANTIFA,” “Fake News” and “Global Warming.”
The response was swift and furious, according to Smith and Warren, who say they “never ever fathomed this would create such negative and hateful responses, including threats to burn down our building with us inside.”
Julian Alarcon — Cup It Up’s operating partner and the “architect of the restaurant’s multilayered meals-in-a-cup menu” — said Tucson.com, “submitted his resignation to his partners on Saturday and was working with an attorney to legally untangle himself from the restaurant.”
Angry former customers and supporters of civil rights flooded the restaurant’s Facebook and Yelp pages with negative reviews before Smith and Warren pulled the post and the restaurant’s entire Facebook page down. In the three hours that the post was up, the restaurant’s page rating on Facebook fell from 4.9 stars to 2.
“Avoid this place,” said one Yelp review, but the reviewer continued, “I feel bad for the servers, the owner has thrown them under the bus by becoming political online.”
“The owners openly advocate hate,” said another reviewer. “Please avoid.”
Smith told Tucson.com that he is considering closing the restaurant indefinitely because of the vehemence of the pushback.
“It’s hate feedback and it’s for one reason only and it’s that we showed our support for Donald Trump,” he complained. “There was nothing that we put in the post that was absolutely wrong and terrible in that we supported our president and our troops.”
“These types of comments have no place regardless of anyone’s political beliefs,” the owners’ statement read. “We assumed there would be some discussion and shares, but never this type of animosity and hostility.”
Alarcon, said Smith and Warren, was in no way involved in the writing of the Facebook post, which went up Friday and was pulled down by the owners within three hours.
Cup It Up is not entirely without defenders, however. Pima County Republican Party First Vice Chairwoman Ana Henderson posted a supportive message on Facebook, writing, “Those who hate and disparage freedom that was fought for by many in behalf of ALL and represented by our United States Flag must not be heard louder than you. Those who ‘take a knee’ and lash out in our community at our freedom must witness our strength and our voice in our community. Do not surrender to enslavement. Stand together now — stand with me!”
However, when Tucson.com reached out to Pima County GOP Chairman David Eppihimer, he said he’d never heard of the restaurant and was unaware of the controversy.