This week, Ayesha Curry and chef Michael Mina announced that their barbecue-focused restaurant International Smoke would finally open its doors in Houston next month. Diners may be excited about it, but fans of the Houston Rockets are anything but.
Over the past week, Rockets fans bitter about how this year’s Western Conference Finals shook out — for those who don’t pay attention to sports, Houston lost to the Golden State Warriors before the Warriors, including Curry’s point guard husband Steph, went on to win the NBA Championship — have taken to Yelp and Facebook to bombard the restaurant with negative reviews before it even opens.
“I will never step foot in this restaurant even if my only other option was a pet food store,” reads one review, while others make the salient point that nobody from California needs to be bringing a barbecue restaurant to Houston. Outside of that occasional logic, though, many of these “reviews” veer into both misogyny and racism, attacking Curry for just being married to her husband and making racist remarks about the owner and future staff.
Of course, as media outlets like Bleacher Report began to pick up on these reviews, Golden State fans have left their own reviews, pretty much all of them 5-stars. “I realllly love this restaurant because the people behind it did their research on what Houston is all about,” reads one counter-review. “The food definitely caters to the flavors Houstonians really enjoy in their mouth: salty, sour, and most of all, bitter.” Ouch.
At present, more than 300 reviews for Houston’s outpost of International Smoke are on Yelp, and it doesn’t even open until July 5. A banner at the top of the restaurant’s profile on the review site indicates that Yelp is “monitoring” the listing for reviews that violate its terms of service, which likely means that most of the bogus reviews will be pulled from the site in the coming days.
In response to the onslaught of hateful tweets, Curry issued the following statement on Twitter.
Don’t be like this, y’all.
It’s my third location. The irony of it all. I don’t play ball so this has been very entertaining to watch people so wound up. The food will speak for itself once we open and I actually love Houston. I love food, I love bbq and am excited to bring something different to the table— Ayesha Curry (@ayeshacurry) June 21, 2018
Update, 4:55 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect that Yelp is investigating negative reviews at International Smoke.