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Domenico’s Owner Takes Down Controversial Sign, Apologizes

Michael Pollice said he had a change of heart after meeting with Muslim Americans.

After the controversial sign he posted in front of in Cranberry caused a stir in the community (including on the Cranberry Patch site), owner Michael Pollice has had a change of heart.

“I like to push stuff as far as it can go,” he said. “I will never do that again, because it hurts people.”

Pollice, who is known in the community for h, erected a sign last week that said “Flying Remote Control Airplanes into Muslim People at the Mall is My Thing.”

The sign, which received local—and even national—media coverage ignited a firestorm of responses that ranged from support of Pollice’s message—which he said was a joke—to defense of First Amendment rights to downright outrage and disgust.

In just a few days time, C from readers giving their opinion on the issue. Many threatened to boycott the restaurant.

According to Pollice—who said business at the restaurant actually increased—the responses at first inspired him to poke back (which he did in the comment section of the ) and to push the envelope even further. By Saturday, a new sign he posted in front of the restaurant read, “If This Sign Offends You, Call a Dead Soldier's Parents to Complain.”

Then a phone call changed his mind.

Pollice said Asim Kokan, a board member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asked him Wednesday for a face-to-face get together to talk about the sign.

Pollice agreed to the meeting, which also was attended by Kazim Reza, a member of the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh and a local realtor, Scott Rudolph, a pastor with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Franklin Park, and Donna McNamara, an active member with the North Hills Anti-Racism Coalition.

Pollice said he had never before spent time with Muslims, and doing so changed his attitude. After explaining he thought of the sign as a joke, he and the visitors got along fine.

“Those guys were great,” he said. “They could have been jerks to me.”

Pollice added he apologized numerous times to the group—and even offered to hold a fundraiser at the restaurant to benefit a new mosque for the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh. The association currently rents a space in Wexford.

“I think it was good thing for me,” Pollice said of the meeting. “I’m better for the experience.”

Unsure at first of what to expect, Reza said he also was pleasantly surprised at the meeting.

"He was very calm and very apologetic for hurting the feelings of Muslims and others," he said of Pollice.

The McCandless resident—who moved from India to the United States in 1954 to attend college—said the group learned about the Domenico’s sign from an email a woman originally sent to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh that was forwarded to other mosques around the area.

“She felt is was very, very inappropriate,” Reza said of the emailer. “She felt hurt. She felt it was totally uncalled for.”

Part of CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, which is why the group—which meets up for North Hills Anti-Racism Coalition events— scheduled the meeting with Pollice. Reza also invited anyone with an interest in learning more about Islam to attend prayers at MAP’s mosque in Wexford.

“We do not stop anybody. Anybody can come,” he said. “You only have to follow the basic disciplines of the mosque.”

As for Pollice, he said the incident wouldn’t deter him from posting quirky signs in the future. By Thursday, he had a new sign up that he said shouldn't offend anyone—except maybe marine life. It reads, “Dolphins are Just Sharks Who Watch Glee.”

Linda Graham-Love June 01, 2012 at 12:38 PM
It takes class to admit you made a mistake. Time for forgiveness and moving on.
Maddie June 01, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Maybe he ought to focus on improving that lousy food instead of alienating his last 3 customers!
michele lawver June 01, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I agree with Linda. Good for you Mike!
Judy Habel June 01, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I agree with Linda! I am glad I can continue to go to Domenico's for their excellent fish specials!
Janet Butler June 01, 2012 at 02:14 PM
why are you still trying to be negative? The article is not even talking about the food??!!
Erin Conners June 01, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Thank you for admitting that you were wrong and apologizing Mr. Pollice. I hope that others who were encouraged by the sign (though not the intention of Mr. Pollice) to publicly demonstrate their own racist ideas and claim them as being representative of the community, will learn from Mr. Pollice's interaction with local Muslims and retract their hurtful words as well. All good things, and I am glad to see it! Thank you again.
Maddie June 01, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Why is everyone so desperate to defend this guy?? He plastered his ignorance in front of the restaurant he owns for the world to see and of course it ticked people off (he must have failed business school) and now everyone is supposed to be thrilled that he's a reformed dumb a$$?? Oh please! BTW, the food is LOUSY!
ali samsami June 01, 2012 at 05:37 PM
This is awesome... as one of my phavorite philidelphians once said "if I can change, and you can change, everyone can change"
Maddie June 01, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Oh, and also everybody, the exact quote from the show Glee, that this Mr. Pollice is referring to now on his sign is, "Dolphins are just gay sharks" So, is he trying to say that people who watch Glee are gay? I really am honestly curious because I'm wondering what he's getting at. He has not learned a thing from all of this and I bet you he's sitting at home hysterically laughing at everybody! Especially the Muslim leaders in the community who have tried to reach out to him and educate him. He knows exactly what he's doing (maybe not exactly what's good for his business but whatever) or else he wouldn't have put up those racist remarks in the first place.
Patti June 01, 2012 at 05:51 PM
If you have ever eaten at Domenico's you would know that: 1. our food is exceptional 2. we have an abundance of loyal customers 3. lets move on already
Mark Graham June 01, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Way to go Mike. I knew you would take the high road. I'm sure this was an enlightening experience for you. "Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes" ~Oscar Wilde
Erin Conners June 01, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Maddie, you are definitely not wrong. Michael Moore (and many others) wrote an entire book demonstrating that America has not given up racist policy since the Civil Rights Acts, but that the powers-that-be have only become more covert and clever about getting the same results (oppressing people of color). Michelle Alexander wrote a book called _The New Jim Crow Laws_ that talks about the same kind of thing without the comedy of Michael Moore. If Pollice was truly apologetic about offending a portion of the community, he would not have posted a (now less obvious, go Michael Moore) possibly offensive sign implying that gay people watch Glee, a show that he obviously doesn't like, therefore implying that gay people are somehow less than himself. The message is vague and possibly what he thinks is harmless slander all in good fun. He has learned nothing. The benefit of the apology is not as evidence of man who has changed. The really benefit of the apology is that he has retracted a sign that -even if just for a few days- validated all of the hateful, racist people in this community enough to actually say these things on the internet! He admitted that he is wrong, and those people no longer have an online forum for their ignorance that is very public and available to serve as an example to anyone who reads this online paper. So for that reason, I thank the guy for admitting that he was so very wrong.
Erin Conners June 01, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Here is the scene from Glee if anyone is curious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CasgoSJmnI
Maddie June 01, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Thank you, Erin. You have eloquently summed up my sentiments exactly and also shed some light on why, even though he's still a shameless, rediculous biggot, it was a positive step for him to apologize and take down his moronic sign. These kinds of conversations are good, although frustrating. It's funny because he thinks he's going "rogue" by displaying ignorance and intolerance outside of his establishment, all he's really doing is showing what an uneducated simpleton he is. Oh, and in case I forgot to mention, his food is LOUSY!
Mansoour Ansari June 02, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Say what you will but, as a Muslim from Atlanta, I really like the way this thing ended, with understanding and hopefully the beginning for some good will to be shown. So many comments about the food though makes me want to have dinner there when I am next in the 412.
surriya June 02, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Surriya K.Waheed,chairperson-skw life for limb loss-non- profit Org Mike ! Thank you , you did great thing to change your attitude and showed your inner noble corner of your heart.Life only comes once ,we should live in peace,harmony,love and tolerence with other human beings ,no matter what faith they had.
Maddie June 02, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Mansoour, hope you like Marie Calandar's frozen Italian meals from the frozen food isle at the grocery store. Because that's exactly what you will be consuming at Domenico's. Bon Apetite!
Abdullah June 02, 2012 at 07:11 AM
Why does everyone keep calling him a racist for his attacks on Muslims. Islam is not a race or creed it is a religion there are caucasion Muslims hispanic Muslims African Muslims etc a Muslim is a human who submits to the will of GOD so I don't thinks it's considered racism.
Enzo Rocco June 02, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Everyone is defending this guy because they have a brain. If he failed business school why is Domenico's been in Cranberry since 1985? I think you failed at life. Get one, or get a job.
Erin Conners June 02, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Abdullah, I think it is because Pollice and the many people who comment were directing their remarks towards Middle Eastern and/or Northern African Muslims. I have only ever spoken to one of the guys who works in the mall (that pollice referred to), and he was from Egypt. There were almost comments that told the "immigrants" to leave or "go back to the desert," so though these people did not specify, they were speaking of people from the Middle East/Northern Africa. I talk about this in my blog entry. So you are right, but they were not speaking of Caucasian Muslims from this country. Technically, "racism" is not correct either. We are all one race. We differ in ethnicity, but nobody ever says "ethnicism." (That is not a word and I am aware.) So you are correct in your point, but in this case it was more racism than religious intolerance. But like everyone said, it is great that he apologized. Not so great that he now pokes fun at gay people, but Rome was not built in a day. I have seen many edgy billboards for businesses that do _not_ express hatred for any one ethnicity, religion, sexuality, sex, etc. Imagine that? _or_ be edgy by mocking those who are racist or intolerant of other people in some other way? People bring up Family Guy in the conversation, but Family Guy tends to mock the bad guys...and the eighties. :)
Jessica Repp June 04, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Glad he apologized for the sign, but it will be hard to step foot in his restaurant again after reading all his comments as "Ron Mexico" on Patch. After all of his ranting online, he is definitely not someone I'd be quick to support, but his meeting and apology regarding the sign were a good start! I do love the restaurant, so hopefully he was just drinking on the holiday weekend while posting online and really isn't the person his posts made him seem to be!!
Richard Sutherland June 05, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Wish more people could make the same turnaround that Pollice did.
Anela June 05, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Pollice learned a good lesson which will make him a better person. Years ago, my boss then was gay. We all came to accept it and held him in high esteem because of his kindness, humour and human touch. When he died of AIDS, we all cried like babies. Today, I give credit to him for teaching all of us about human kindness and respect. I am a Muslim...and I shall not judge. Why? Because I will leave that to God Almighty.
Happy Poster July 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM
So much for learning his lesson. This guy loves the controversy he continues to offend and perpetuate a message of intolerance and hate. I approached him personally and asked him about his GOD HATES FLAGS sign and he laughed and said the thought it was funny. I'm not sure that ANY lesson was learned.
Happy Poster July 17, 2012 at 11:03 AM
I guess he didn't really learn much at all.
Happy Poster July 17, 2012 at 11:03 AM
What do you consider a turnaround? He's at it again....
Happy Poster July 17, 2012 at 11:04 AM
I guess he hasn't really learned anything.....http://domenicospizzaincranberry.wordpress.com/
Happy Poster July 17, 2012 at 11:05 AM
It would be easier to forgive if he'd "really" learn from his mistakes. http://domenicospizzaincranberry.wordpress.com/

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