The owner of a bar in New York insists that he wasn't trying to be offensive with an ad posted to his website promoting a Cinco de Mayo event that some in the Latino community say is racist, News12 reported Friday.
"Join us for a little taste of Mexico (might as well before the whole country immigrates here!)" the ad stated.
Michael Bruemmer, owner of Off Key Tikki Bar, says the ad "was a tongue in cheek attempt at humor."
"Probably wasn't the smartest thing I have ever said, but it was not certainly meant with any malice," he added.
But some residents in the area don't agree.
"Coming from immigrant parents, I am Mexican like 100%, so obviously, to me I took that fully offensively," a woman identified as Guadalupe told News12. "I don't see how anyone wouldn't because that's something like, even as a joke, you wouldn't say."
The bar is now being bombarded with negative reviews on Yelp.
"Horrible place! Not only is the establishment run down and dirty, (if you actually look and aren't too drunk to miss it) but the owner is also insanely rude and RACIST!" one person wrote.
"There should be no tolerance for racism in America ! This establishment is trash and should be ashamed of themselves and shut down," added another person.
The ad has been changed on the website and Bruemmer says he hopes the Cinco de Mayo event will be inclusive.
"With concern to our recent post regarding our celebration of Mexican culture on Cinco De Mayo and our attempt at humor in it. We apologize if some took it in a manor [sic] in which it was not intended, it was strictly a tongue in cheek comment and clearly not meant to be taken seriously," the business said in a statement on Facebook.
"For those that took it as disrespectful, we can only say that nothing could be further from the truth. Just as Tikki itself is a blending of American and Polynesian cultures, Tikki is the most inclusive of establishments, embraces and respects all cultures and peoples, as many of our loyal customers can attest. (If sometimes a bit irreverently)," the statement continued.
"For those that were offended," it added, "once again we apologize and invite all to come down on the 5th and join us in celebrating this day of diversity and respect for this great Holiday assimilation of American and Mexican cultures."