Who would've thought that a simple hug could lead to so much online political posturing?
The last week has undoubtedly been a rollercoaster ride for Scott Van Duzer, owner of local pizza place Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, Florida. Images and video or Van Duzer lifting and hugging President Obama during a campaign stop went viral, and that attention led to his business' Yelp page being flooded with negative reviews. Most of those negative comments had nothing to do with his pizza, if you catch my drift.
One 1-star reviewer wrote "i wouldn't hug obama nor would i vote for him, now i sure will not oder from your resturant!!" Another 1-star reviewer wrote, "We all have the right to voice our political opinions. However if you use your business or foundation to do so, you should be prepared to accept the consequences. I will get my pizza elsewhere."
Another said "Can't recommend a place that let's vermin like the POTUS into it's establishment. At the end of the day do you really want to go to a place whose pizza is so bad and politically charged that the cheese falls to the left?"
Many of the recent reviews do mention the pizza, but the flood of 1-star reviews in the hours and days after the hug went viral suggests ulterior motives.
Big Apple's rating currently sits at four and a half stars, no doubt inflated by supporters who sought to restore the rating after it dipped dramatically due to the many 1-star reviews.
But Yelp isn't the only place to sound off online, and Big Apple Pizza's Facebook page is seeing a flood of support. Out of the 100 most-recent Timeline posts, barely a handful are negative.
Polticis aside, this serves as a cautionary tale for small business owners. Even the smallest of gestures, or one controversial action can lead to an absolute mess. Ah, the power of anonymity and the internet.