***Update***: Please read the update here.
Despite most of the food and drink establishments in Springfield, Missouri being grateful for our business during Skepticon IV, the owners at Gelato Mio made it very clear — at least temporarily — that they wanted nothing to do with us:
Skepticon is NOT welcomed to my Christian Business
They have since apologized. More on that in a moment.
Now that the craziness has died down, let’s recap some of the lessons to take away from all this:
- Even when they write things out by hand, Christians love turning on the CAPS LOCK key…
- The company’s Yelp page took a huge hit — it’s rating is now at 1.5 out of 5 stars — as did it’s Urbanspoon approval (currently at 11%). I heard that at one point yesterday, the “favorite menu item” was listed as “bigotry” (Best served cold?) but I no longer see that up there. I don’t think it’s fair to change their “menu” or say anything that’s untrue, but it’s perfectly fine to explain how you were treated by the owners. Let future customers know about it.
Moral of the story: when you discriminate against your customers in a despicable way, there are powerful ways to fight back.
Forget boycotting the store. We’ll kick you right in the Google rankings.
- The apology — after it had gone through an iteration or two and it removed a reference to an unnamed isolated “incident” — seems genuine, but the image had already gone viral on Reddit and it was too little too late:
RE Letter in the Window:
To the Public: I sincerely apologize for the posting of the note in the window. It was an impulse reaction to an event that I witnessed and it was only up for a few minutes before I came to my senses and realized it shouldn’t have been up at all.
So you know, nobody was turned away and everyone was given the same high level of service they have come to expect. Out of the hundreds of event attendees that I served on Friday and Saturday, all of them were extremely polite and enjoyed their time in my restaurant. The event that greatly offended me was conducted by one man and I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.
Even small business owners make mistakes, and I sincerely apologize to those whom I offended.
All the Best,
I have offered the owner a chance to offer a better apology — one that doesn’t sound like a PR person crafted it — on this site. He said he would think about it, but as of this moment, I haven’t heard back. If he responds, I’ll post something separately.
- Establishments that welcomed the 1000+ people who attended Skepticon regardless of what they thought about our beliefs, such as Farmers Gastropub, were rewarded. Just check out this (unverified) tweet:
It’s to a business’s peril to pre-exclude a huge number of customers on the basis of religion. This has nothing to do with atheism. It’s just bad business, period.
- This incident shows what we can do when we band together. It took one person to snap the picture and share it online. As soon as Skepticon attendees and Reddit users heard about the story, BOOM. The resolution was swift, the sign was down in minutes, and the apology was soon up on their website.
- Never get between atheists and our gelato. Nothing good will ever come of it.
Think of how much discrimination we could stop if we took this kind of approach every time.