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The restaurant owner said the phrase was meant to be a cute play on words
Many Facebook users didn't agree, calling the sign "tacky" and "insensitive"
Some did take a lighter approach, writing on the social media platform that people take offense too easily
An Italian restaurant in New Mexico is under fire for apparently trying to leverage the Black Lives Matter movement to boost sales of its olive tapenade.
Paisano's in Albuquerque put "BLACK OLIVES MATTER TRY OUR TAPENADE" below a billboard outside its restaurant last week to promote one of its specials, drawing outrage on social media from many who said it trivialized the movement protesting recent fatal shootings of black men by police.
Owner Rick Camuglia told NBC affiliate KOB restaurant workers thought it was "a cute play on words."
“We were trying to promote our pan-seared Ahi tuna with a black olive tapenade relish. And so we put ‘black olives matter, try our tapenade,'” Camuglia said.
Some Facebook users took to the restaurant's page to voice their frustration; some called the sign "tacky and hideous;" others called it "disgusting" and "insensitive."
Others weren't offended by the sign. One Facebook user posted she was "so sick of people" getting "offended over every little thing." Others quipped, "All olives matter."
The restaurant pulled the promotion from the billboard amid the backlash, but Camuglia, who said he had been getting calls accusing him of being racist, told KOB it was not his intent to offend anyone. He told the station he doesn't feel the need to apologize.
"I think it shows an interesting state of affairs of where our country is that people, first of all, can be offended by a statement about a vegetable," Camuglia said. "Black olives matter, and it does matter in our tapenade."
The restaurant later posted on Facebook that it had been inundated with calls requesting dishes with black olives and served up so many of them it nearly ran out and had to order more.