Restaurant under fire for ‘Black Olives Matter’ pun on sign

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque restaurant has come under fire for a play on words regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

It happened at Paisano’s Italian restaurant in the Heights when the owner put “BLACK OLIVES MATTER – TRY OUR TAPENADE” on his marquee sign out front.

“We use our reader board to promote our specials,” Rick Camuglia said. “We thought it was a cute, play on words to promote our special Ahi tuna tonight.”

He then took a picture of the sign and posted it to Facebook. As you might expect, not everyone thought it was funny.

Commenters wrote “How insensitive,” “Very poor taste,” and “What the hell is wrong with you people?”

Camuglia said he got a lot of upset phone calls, too.

“We didn’t think anybody would be offended by that, it was not our intent to offend anybody,” he said.

We showed the picture to Amanda Molina, the Vice President at The Garrity PR Group who’s well-versed in social media.

“If you decide to post on a high-profile issue, you’ve got to make sure it’s not going to be perceived as insensitive or comical when really it’s not an issue that’s funny,” Molina said.

She said businesses have a “social responsibility” because of their large audiences and place in the community.

“There’re other ways to communicate what your food’s about,” she said. “And it doesn’t go away when it’s on the internet.”

She said to not keep in mind sensitive topics, really isn’t having that social responsibility in mind.

We also showed the picture to Harold Bailey, the president of the Albuquerque NAACP branch. In a statement, he wrote:

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. Unjustified killing of innocent Black men is nothing to joke about. Whether it was intentional or not, it sent the wrong message to many.

I’m 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.

Camuglia reluctantly took down half of the sign and removed the Facebook post.

“I think if that offends some people, a statement about black olives, that somebody needs to reevaluate their politically correct meter,” Caumglia said.

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