Restaurant receives backlash for hanging pride flag on storefront

DORCHESTER, Mass. - A restaurant owner in Dorchester received a one-star review on Yelp for having a pride flag hanging outside his establishment.

Born in Italy, Nino Barbalace's American Dream was to obtain U.S. citizenship and open up his own restaurant.

Barbalace eventually achieved both dreams, and now calls Zia Gianna on Dorchester Avenue his home. Having put his heart and soul into the restaurant, Barbalace offers up food made with love and a welcoming environment for all, an inclusive place open for anyone.

However, a Yelp post with a one-start review of Zia Gianna caught his eye one day.

"I saw one star and I said, 'wow, what happened?'" said Barbalace.

In the review, the person said, in part, "well, that flag says all when you delve deeper and see the real customer base here."

The post went on to say "it's clearly geared and catered only to those who rally behind the rainbow flag."

"It was personal," said Barbalace. "If you go to a place and you’re not happy with the food or the service, I understand that if I made a mistake because we all make mistakes. This is a restaurant, not politics."

Upset by what was written, customers rallied around Barbalace.

"We thought we were beyond that at this point," said Tiffany Andrade, a customer.

Andrade specifically came to the cafe Friday to show her support.

"Luckily we live in the land of the free and people are entitled to their own opinion, but I do think it’s something to understand that we are an open community and there are people who come from all different countries and all different backgrounds and we should be welcoming of everyone," said Andrade.

Barbalace responded by sharing a post on the restaurant's Facebook page saying:

"All are welcome at Zia Gianna, even this gentleman. We'd love to show him some kindness from the LGBTQ community because love always wins."

The Yelp post has since been taken down, but the flag will remain on the establishment front window.

Barbalace says they don't always have to agree, but his doors are always open if that person wants to give him a second chance.

"I'm here to serve the food, if he is hungry, he is welcome to come here," said Barbalace.

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