Thanks to the power of social media, Yelp and Facebook reviews have become ridiculously complicated for restaurants in recent years. Unfortunately for Pi Pizza, they had to learn this lesson the hard way.
Over the weekend, controversy swirled after an unhappy Houston customer left a negative review of the newly-opened pizzeria on Facebook, saying that he wouldn’t patronize businesses that ban the concealed carry of weapons. Pi Pizza has posted signage that indicates both concealed and open carry is prohibited inside the restaurant.
Co-owner Lee Ellis entered the fray on Facebook, telling the reviewer to "FO," the meaning of which you can probably interpret to mean "fuck off."
Scope out this excerpt of the exchange here:
A screenshot of the review was posted to a number of gun forums, which led to a slew of negative, false reviews of the restaurant from people who had (likely) never been to the restaurant. Pi Pizza removed the option to leave a Facebook review after the onslaught began, but Eater snagged a screenshot of this choice entry:
The Pi Pizza controversy made its way to Open Carry Texas, who encouraged its followers to boycott the restaurant. "Telling prospective customers carrying concealed firearms to "FO" caused this. The entire public relations nightmare was their own doing," says Valente Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the group. "I would personally never eat there and would ask others not to eat there."
Eater reached out to Cherry Pie Hospitality, the restaurant group that operates Pi Pizza, for a statement and only heard "no comment." Lee Ellis did, however, tell CultureMap that business was up "18% on Saturday and 40% on Sunday." Photos from the restaurant posted to Facebook (and since removed) show lines out the door throughout the weekend.
UPDATE: A new screenshot of a fake Google comment allegedly posted by Pi Pizza is circulating around the web, including the restaurant’s Yelp page. Check out the (clearly Photoshopped) "comment" below:
Pi Pizza denies posting the comment, and is currently working with Google to have the impostor page taken down. "It wasn't about guns for us to start with," says a spokesperson for Pi Pizza. "It was about a 1 star review that had nothing to do with our food and the original guy never stepped foot in our place."
In the meantime, the restaurant’s Yelp page has been bombarded with false reviews, pro-gun memes, and photos of pizzas in the shape of penises. Real mature, guys.