SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Patrons of Rodolfo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant may have noticed a special sticker on their boxes and bags last weekend.
To show his support for both members of the black community, victims of police brutality, and law enforcement, co-owner Michael Scotto created stickers that went on all outgoing orders over the course of four days.
The stickers featured the following message: ‘This pizzeria can and will support all victims of bad cops. We have & will continue to support all good police officers. We support Black Lives Matter. These ideals are not mutually exclusive. You are welcome to your own opinion. If you don’t like it…there are 11 other pizzerias in town.’
The stickers that Scotto put on all bags, containers, and pizza boxes, however, featured a lengthier and more detailed message than the shorter and much more blunt one he initially proposed stating, simply, ‘This pizzeria supports Black Lives Matter. Don’t like it? There’s 11 other pizzerias in town.’
“I made those up and sent one to a long time customer who has become a close friend, and she posted it on social media. But that same day the whole ‘defund the police’ thing escalated, so we immediately pumped the breaks,” said Scotto.
Speaking with customers who serve on the South Plainfield Police Department and to black friends who serve as cops in Plainfield, Scotto created the new stickers with the more detailed message and, in the days that followed, the response was ‘nothing short of overwhelming.’
“The feedback has been amazing, with 99-percent being overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “We have also gotten a lot of new customers.”
The one-percent negative, Scotto said, came from three different residents who, over the past week, reached out to express their disapproval with the establishment’s stance. One unknown female called to ask if it was true Rodolfo’s was in favor of defunding the police only to hang up when Scotto responded, ‘no, that’s ridiculous.’ Another, posted June 11 on a South Plainfield community group Facebook page that he would be 'supporting 1 of the other 11 pizzerias.'
And the third, came in the form of a printed out photo of the sticker, assumably from social media, that was mailed anonymously with no return address. On it, the person handwrote ‘Seriously?!?! After 40 years, we’ve spent our last dime at Rodolfo’s! What a Shame.” The author also circled ‘There’s’ 11 other’ on the print out and reprimanded Scotto on his misuse of ‘basic English grammar,’ noting it should have stated ‘There are…’ 11 other pizzerias.
“If you feel the need to stay quiet and not put your name on something – the opposite of what we did – maybe it’s because they don’t want to be outed as a racist or because they still plan to come here and don’t want us to know who they are. If you have that much hate in heart and we’ve lost a customer, it’s okay,” said Scotto adding, “I am sure there are a lot of silent people, but they are silent for a reason and being silent is the opposite of what we did. As a business in the community for over 40 years, we put our name on something that we feel makes a difference.”
According to Scotto, the restaurant is a big supporter of law enforcement, giving back throughout the year and, throughout the current healthcare crisis, the restaurant has also been working with local organizations and businesses to provide meals for frontline workers.
Additionally, last week, Rodolfo’s changed its Instagram profile photo to black in support of Black Lives Matter as well as posted a list of locally black-owned restaurants accompanied by a message that states, in part, ‘Our hearts go out to all the small business owners that first closed for COVID and now continue to stay closed…Our hearts go out to the small businesses being vandalized and have to remain closed. It’s not enough to say you support #BlackLivesMatter, you should show it. It would be crazy to think that 100% of our customers agree. And if they don’t, they are welcome to their opinion. But that opinion isn’t welcomed at Rodolfo’s…’
“I have a ton of friends and customers who are black and it’s hard for me to understand what they are going through. I can’t imagine how they feel,” added Scotto.“It’s 2020, and yet, we’re still here?"
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