Black Toronto chef says he was fired from pizza place following racist incident
A popular Parkdale pizza parlour is the latest Toronto business to find itself cancelled by social media users over an egregious act of racism.
Amico's Pizza, which has been serving Italian food on West Queen West for more than 40 years, issued an apology via Instagram over the weekend in regards to a message circulated by a former employee.
The employee, Tyler Daniel, had shared an unsettling story about his time at (and dismissal from) the restaurant on Friday.
"Record of events: I began working at your establishment, Amico’s Pizza and restaurant, on Friday, June 5th. I enjoyed working there and received positive feedback," reads the text of an apparent email to Amico's from Daniel, posted to the former party's Instagram account.
"A friend of yours was in the restaurant doing work for you doing my shift on Sunday, June 7. While watching footage of Black Lives Matter protests, this man said 'fuck all those protesters, we should shoot those n*****s.'"
Daniel went on to express how deeply offended he was by the comment, noting that most of the restaurant's guests seemed offended as well.
He alleges that the owner of the establishment's wife apologized to him, but then immediately asked Daniel to prepare an 'extra special' pizza for the man who had uttered the racial slur. Daniel says he was told that the racist man was 'longtime friend' of the company's.
"I confronted you personally after I finished my shift about why you had not come to speak with me about the incident. You responded by saying I was 'being aggressive' and handed me the shift wages in cash," reads Daniel's statement of facts, addressed to the owner of Amico's.
"You told me you will no longer be needing me for work the next day. I returned Wednesday, June 10, to inquire about my job. You told me that you were not comfortable with me working there anymore."
Daniel initially asked the restaurant's owner for an apology as well as his job back on Wednesday but did not receive a response.
The pizza chef went public with his story on Friday and has since retained the pro bono services of human rights lawyer David Shiller.
Daniel is bringing legal action against Amico's in an effort to ensure that what happened to him doesn't happen to anyone else, at least not at this particular Parkdale restaurant.
"He had multiple opportunities to right this wrong," said Tyler of his former employer in a release announcing the legal proceedings on Sunday.
"This is bigger than all that, now. If he's not going to make this right, I have no choice but to do so. This can't be allowed to happen, particularly now."
The case has generated a strong wave of anger toward Amico's, which as of Monday appears to have taken down its website and Facebook page.
It's also brought on a whirlwind of support for Daniel, who says he's been bombarded with offers of help across multiple platforms.
"The love is felt. Sooo many of you guys have offered to help me financially!" he wrote on Sunday in the caption of an Instagram post showing his own reply to one such offer. "You guys are the best! I am posting this to let all you guys know how to help!"
Daniel is asking that anyone who feels the need to donate money to send their funds to Black Lives Matter "or any other charity that helps disadvantaged people of any sex, clout, creed or kind."
The Parkdale Residents Association is asking Amico's to "take further action to make amends for the damages done" but also stresses that harmful retaliation against the establishment is not the answer.
"It saddens us to have to draw attention to this incident of racism in our community," reads a statement published to the association's website on Sunday.
"Amico's Pizza is a neighbourhood establishment and they must know we will not overlook or condone their harmful silence, nor the wrongful dismissal of Tyler Daniel."
"I acknowledge that I did not respond to the events described as quickly or thoroughly as I should have, given the appalling racist situation," wrote the owner of Amico's in an Instagram post responding to the situation.
"I do not and have never tolerated racist behaviour and I sincerely apologize [for] the hurt I have caused Tyler and our community due to my inaction."
"Amicos will continue to serve and support our diverse and inclusive community," the statement continues. "We acknowledge the harm that this incident has caused to our neighbours; and will ensure that no further incidents of racist behaviour occur in our establishment."
It's far too little, far too late for many Toronto consumers, however.
At least one supplier, Moosehead Breweries, has cut ties with the restaurant in response to what happened to Daniel, and many on Instagram and Twitter are pledging to boycott Amico's indefinitely.
"The only reason he's apologizing is because he got caught, remember this folks," commented one person on the Amico's Instagram post Monday.
"Had he actually given a sh*t, he would have dealt with it then and there and kicked that POS out of the restaurant. Instead he chose to fire a man FOR DOING NOTHING WRONG."
"Actions speak louder than words," wrote another. "Your actions scream: 'I am a racist'!"
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