Boise restaurant owner apologizes after Facebook video is called racist
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A Boise restaurant owner landed himself in some hot water after a video meant to promote his menu came under fire for being what some called racist.
Pizza, salad and chicken. It's what PizzalChik in Northwest Boise is known for, and what it's named for. The owner, Brad Breakell, says it's also been known for the funny and off-the-wall videos he posts to Facebook to promote the weekend specials.
In each video, Breakell comes up with a different character to catch people's attention.
His most recent character, Jacklyn Jaws, caught a lot of attention, but it wasn't the kind Breakell was hoping for.
The character, intended to look like a talking shark to play off the Discovery Center's shark exhibit, featured Breakell with a face painted black. He immediately received heavy backlash on social media, claiming Breakell's post was racist.
Breakell says the face paint was not meant to be racist but instead was supposed to help him blend in with the mouth of the shark.
"There was no intent of being blackface," Breakell said. "People said, 'Do you know what blackface is?' Of course, I know what blackface is but because I'm so not that way it didn't even cross my mind."
The video was shared on the Social Justice Warriors Facebook page, and some of its thousands of followers left negative reviews of the restaurant - and worse.
"My children have taken harassing phone calls," Breakell said. "People have been phoning and ordering hundreds and hundreds of dollars of pizza with no intent to pick any of this stuff up."
The video has since been taken down, and an apology video has been put up by Breakell, explaining he did not intend to be racist.
"This is about peace, music, love and pizza. That's what this place is built on," Breakell said.
The reputation of his family and his restaurant have been dragged through the mud, and Breakell says it hasn't been fun. Nonetheless, he's walking away having learned a valuable lesson: social media can be a great advertising tool, but it can turn on you quickly.
Will this stop the characters and the videos? Breakell says not likely, but after all of this, he is sure to be very careful with the way his characters will make people feel.