Yelp Page for Pizzeria Owner Who Hugged Obama Becomes Political Battleground

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama is picked-up and lifted off the ground by Scott Van Duzer, owner of Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant during an unannounced stop in Ft. Pierce, Fla., Sept. 9, 2012.

It used to be that the only thing partisan about pizza was the battle between New York thin crust and Chicago deep-dish. But one Florida pizzeria owner is finding his shop caught in a squabble between Republicans and Democrats, all because he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to bear hug the president.

While in Fort Pierce, Fla. on Sunday, President Obama dropped into Scott Van Duzer’s Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant. While making small talk with the 46-year-old pizzeria owner, Obama complimented his physique. He said, “If I eat your pizza, can I get some muscles like that?” Van Duzer told the Daily Beast. And that’s when he decided to flex said muscle and lift the president off the ground in a massive embrace. Thus was one of this election cycle’s great viral images born.

(PHOTOS: Obama Makes His Way to the DNC)

Van Duzer says he’s a registered Republican but voted for Obama in 2008 and plans to do so again in November. And it was this purported party flip-flop that has fired up the vitriol from both sides of the aisle. “People are saying a lot of bad things and boycotting my restaurant,” Van Duzer told Politico.

Never mind Ohio, you’d think the real battleground right now is the Yelp page for Big Apple Pizza. Before Sunday, the pizzeria appears to have had just two ratings, both allotting it five stars. Since the hug went viral, more than 2,500 comments have poured in — a barrage of one-star and five-star reviews, ranging from sarcastic to angry to complimentary, sent in by people coast-to-coast.

Many users either praised the owner for his boldness or predicted the demise of his business. A Louisiana commenter wrote: “Very poor taste to pick up the President of the United States! Please remember President Obama is someone who is against small businesses!” which was countered with “5 stars for a real American!!” said a user from Camarillo, Calif. One from Mesa, Ariz. wrote a tongue-in-cheek welfare critique: “Best value when you spend the food stamps your neighbor paid for. Rated number one by food stamp users nation wide.”

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Others stuck to the more traditional Yelp use, offering a compliment or critique of the pizza, with varying degrees of authenticity. A one-star review reading “There were flies,” and another of “I saw a rat in the restaurant the other day” are rather unbelievable – health codes do exist for a reason – but even the locals have chimed in. “I find it hysterical that people from California are giving this place 5 Stars – I am in Port St Lucie – and this is cardboard pizza!” one said.

One commenter from Bothell, Wash. added some wisdom to the forum that seems to be overrun by vitriol: “Common sense always trumps politics. That and good food.”

While the comments overwhelmingly skew positive, giving Big Apple Pizza a burgeoning five-star rating, Yelp says that nearly 200 comments — of both the one-star and five-star varieties — had to be removed for violating review guidelines. It’s a symptom, perhaps, of a wider problem. As Van Duzer told Politico, “There’s no middle line anymore, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with our country right now.”

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25 comments
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amyrg
amyrg

I would say this comment thread exemplifies the story perfectly.  This one single thread with only 15 comments (as of my writing) has harsh and critical words flying back and forth across the net.  And this is such a mild story in comparison.  If we were all in a room together would we treat each other like this?  How are we going to have serious political discourse if we can't even discuss a story about a guy bearhugging the president and selling pizza?

Nancy Feist
Nancy Feist

Politics aside, we've arrived at the point where we need to ensure that people who comment on a business actually have used their products. Maybe someone could come up with a kind of system where people could put in their receipt number, or have to name one item off the menu that they ate while they were there. 

Christina Bussmann
Christina Bussmann

All the local comments attacking the restaurant should be checked for 1) first time posters or raters and 2) date of posting.  Anyone who posted for the very first time on this restaurant AFTER the viral photo of the owner hugging the POTUS should be rightly ignored.  

I find it amazing all the haters would attack him and his business at the same time they posted support for Chick-fil-a and proclaimed loudly, "The owner's politics should not be used as a basis for boycotting his business!"

Flaming bunch of hypocrites.  

justacog
justacog

Obama = conservative

Romney = fascist

Since many republicans are still actually conservative it is only natural they would hug a fellow conservative. Romney and the Republicans are only republican in name and have no clue what conservative is.

Steve Clark
Steve Clark

 Does anyone else find it ironic that left wing extremists who falsely

accuse Republicans of attacking individuals rights to express themselves are now actually

attacking a individuals because they don't like what they say? The hypocrisy is glaringly obvious. Thank you, Scott

qhurt
qhurt

I find it ironic that right wing extremists who claim to stand up for free speech and job creators are threatening to boycott and shutdown a small business owner for freely expressing himself by hugging and declaring to support the president.

GOD BLESS THE CONSTITUTION, FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND PEPPERONI!!

Steven Robertson
Steven Robertson

That is Ok. Obama will l0an you two or more million, go bankrupt , all is forgiven. Glad I'm not in you stupid ass shoes.  Hope you go broke.

Shithead Barr
Shithead Barr

I live in Fort Pierce FL, and Scott Van Duzer is THE most charitable person in the area, if not the whole state. I participated in a food drive where they collected over 150,000 lbs of food. He helps those struggling most in our area, and that fact has obviously influenced his political viewpoint

I Love Red
I Love Red

The pizza man is exactly right - there is no middle any more.  That is a huge problem.  Neither side is willing to compromise for the good of the country.  Obama has tried but the Republicans blocked everything just to make him look bad.  I would have thought 9/11 and the recession would have brought us together but instead it's just driven us farther apart with both sides blaming the other.  Sad.  Very sad.

CharlesKaye
CharlesKaye

C'mon. This isn't news. The pizza guy gets slammed and the media goes haywire, the left is up in arms., calling conservatives all sorts of names in the process.

Remember Chick-fil-A? I do.

Once again, democrats wrote the rules of engagement, and once again, dems start crying when people play by those very same rules.

I can think of 23M and $16T reasons to ignore this story and focus on what's really important.

ctrussell_com
ctrussell_com

The only ones I have read that are "calling names" are conservatives condemning the shop owner.  Aren't conservatives the ones who preach that every person has the right to their own opinion?  So then why is it when somebody elses opinion differs from theirs that they are an open target?  This polarization started with ultra conservatives and then perpetuated by liberals who were attempting to defend themselves.

Jack Christensen
Jack Christensen

Sounds inconsistent to say you "remember" something only when it fits the narrative your trying to sell. 

Oh and Electronic Arts as well. 

All companies boycotted by right-wing anti gay organizations for either supporting gay rights or in the case of Electronic Arts allowing you to pursue homosexual relationships in their role-playing games

Tom Sylvester
Tom Sylvester

RE: the $16T in your post.  There is a reason Republican VP Cheney said:  "Deficits don't matter."  I was furious at the time but now I get it.  You have to invest in America and the little guy to get us to the next plateau of economic prosperity and that costs $$$.  And it will pay off and we will overcome even the huge deficits run up by all political parties.  Vote for a better, stronger America of "We the People" not "We the Corporations."  President Obama!

Vint MacCabe
Vint MacCabe

You can think of a million reasons to ignore the story, and yet...you chose to post two (right-wing) politically-related replies, rather than addressing the fact that there are people out to run the income of a small business owner (even going so far as to compare it to the treatment that a LARGE, chain-operated business received when some of its more conservative franchise owners went public with political and/or religious beliefs).  I'm an independent voter.  Always have been, for over thirty years.  But the mean-spiritedness echoed by supporters (those who make comments "online" and off, is the worst it's ever been in my lifetime.  And, in truth, the most vociferous and often most venal and puerile,  come from those who say they are affiliated with the conservative movements or with the Republican party (they seem to have been led down that road media organizations and "celebreties" like Fox "News", William Bennet, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glen Beck, and so on).  Everything from bible-thumping to flag-waving has gained more importance than education, health and welfare. That willfully ignorant, willfully juvenile, attitude is what has helped run our country straight into the ground.      

NickRuark
NickRuark

Does anyone else find it ironic that right wing extremists who falsely

accuse Democrats of attacking small business owners are now actually

attacking a small business owner because they don't like its owners

choice in politics? The hypocrisy is glaringly obvious. Thank you, Scott

Van Duzer! Big Apple Pizza FB page -- shown 'em some support: https://www.facebook.com/FortP...

Nancy Feist
Nancy Feist

That side of the fence doesn't necessarily have the mental capacity to understand "irony" or "hypocrisy."

CharlesKaye
CharlesKaye

You just don't like it when the other side uses the very rules you wrote against you.

Christina Bussmann
Christina Bussmann

But didn't you and yours scream about boycotting Chick-fil-a because of the politics of its owner?  It's not your politics---it's your hypocrisy.

Patrick Smythe
Patrick Smythe

 Can't tell the difference between a multi millionaire restaurant chain owner funding hate causes and a small businessman who runs a children's charity hugging the President? And he;' a Republican??? Unbelievable.

qhurt
qhurt

And the hate is so blind you don't even see how it makes your side look even more irrational. why do you hate job creators??

Irish68
Irish68

This fool is a moron. He may as well go into the pet food business, for the sake of the steady stream of moronic dems who will eat his sh!t....