The Tiverton restaurant that posted an anti-Semitic meme on its Facebook page Friday issued an apology on Monday, calling it a “deeply insensitive post” and that it will be a “teachable moment” for its staff.

The meme posted by the Atlantic Sports Bar and Restaurant featured an image of Anne Frank, the 15-year-old girl who famously hid from the Nazis for two years before dying of typhus in a concentration camp, with the statement “It’s hotter than an oven out there…and I should know!’

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo

The Nazis gassed Jewish people during the Holocaust and burned their bodies in giant cremation ovens.

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The meme was removed from the restaurant’s page about an hour after it was posted. The restaurant remained silent over the weekend about the post, and the owner did not return two emails from WBSM seeking comment on Saturday and Sunday.

Monday at 1:33 p.m., the restaurant posted its apology.

“The post was poorly thought out and we realize that it was incredibly inappropriate and does not reflect our values as members of our community,” the post read. “There is no excuse for the sharing of this post, and there is nothing we can do to rectify it. All we can do now is offer our deepest apology to those who were rightfully hurt by our actions.”

“The Atlantic Restaurant prides itself on being a tolerant, inclusive and safe space for all people. We love and respect all of our incredible customers and members of our larger community, irrespective of their religion, race, creed, sexuality or gender identity.”

The restaurant did not mention who had posted the meme; in a phone call placed by WBSM host Jessica Machado on Friday to the owner, she said the owner stated he “Googled it and thought it was funny.”

In comments made to ABC6 on Sunday, the person who answered the phone stated “that the employee that posted the meme was unaware that the person in the photo was Anne Frank and soon quickly deleted the picture when they realized who she was.”

Messias Dias, owner of Atlantic Sports Bar and Restaurant, also posted an apology on his personal Facebook page. WBSM obtained screen shots of his post, which was set to "friends only" in Facebook privacy settings, and he takes the blame for being the one who found and posted the meme.

“On behalf of myself, I would like to sincerely apologize for the distasteful meme I posted on our Facebook Business page. No excuses should be made, but I must speak on my behalf. I didn’t know, I honestly didn’t know. I am aware that EVERYONE knows who Anne Frank is, but I did not finish school and was working at age 13, so I did not recognize her as I posted the meme about being hot as an oven. Call me stupid or uneducated, but please don’t call me anti-Semitic. I am none of those. I am just someone who googled funny memes and picked the wrong one. As soon as I was made aware, I immediately took it down. I had no idea my mistake would cause so much harm, that was not my intention at all.”

“The restaurant did receive calls on Friday night to discuss this further. The hostess did not know anything about this post as she was receiving many calls for reservations and take out orders. When I was given the phone, we had a full dining room with sweating guests as our air conditioner stopped working. I handled the call unprofessionally, no doubt, and for that I apologize as well. We here at Atlantic Sports Bar and Restaurant accept everyone and try to be the best we can be to our customers. Friends and family co-workers I am deeply sorry!”

The restaurant vowed in its apology post to be more responsible with social media posts.

“Moving forward, we will be vigilant in vetting all social media posts to ensure that nothing like the events of this past week ever happen again,” the post read.

Many negative reviews had been posted about the restaurant in regards to the meme on Facebook, Google and Yelp in the wake of the original post, and in the restaurant’s silence on the issue over the weekend. The restaurant acknowledged the backlash, calling it “rightful criticism.”

“We appreciate the outpouring of support, as well as the outpouring of rightful criticism, this will certainly be a teachable moment for our team,” the post concluded. “Thank you again for allowing us to serve our community, doing what we love – we hope that with time we can regain the trust of those who we've hurt and move forward, as a better, stronger and more sensitive organization.”

Listen to Emunah Snyder-Freitas of New Bedford discussing how memes like this hurt the Jewish community in this podcast of WBSM's Tim Weisberg Show:

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