A Tiverton, Rhode Island restaurant has come under scrutiny after posting what can be considered an anti-Semitic meme on Friday when addressing the current heatwave.

Atlantic Sports Bar and Restaurant, located at 70 Shove Street in Tiverton, posted a meme to the restaurant’s Facebook page a little after 5 p.m. on Friday that featured a photo of Anne Frank with the caption “It’s hotter than an oven out there…and I should know!”

The caption for the post read "#ohboy," which appeared to indicate the poster knew it would draw criticism.

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo

Frank, a 15-year-old Jewish girl, died during the Holocaust. She and her family were captured by the Nazis after living in hiding for 761 days and sent to a concentration camp. Her diary went on to become one of the most moving published works on the topic of the Holocaust.

Frank died in a concentration camp, presumably of typhus. The bodies of the millions of Jews killed in the camps were cremated in giant ovens.

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WBSM talk show host Jessica Machado, who has children of Jewish descent, saw the post on Facebook and called the restaurant asking for an explanation. She recounted what happened on Saturday's edition of The Jessica Machado Show.

“I picked up the phone and I called, and said I wanted to speak with someone about a Facebook post,” Machado said. “The girl that answered said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, what post?’ I explained it and she said she didn’t get it, and I said, ‘OK, did you post it?’ and she said no. So I asked if I could talk to the person that did and she hung up on me.”

Machado called back again.

“I then spoke with the owner, who was equally as annoyed with me,” Machado said. “He doubled down on it and said he had just Googled it, he thought it was funny, and that they were very, very busy and it was very hot there, and that they didn’t have time to deal with my concerns or questions. He told me not to call them back and then, click, they hung up.”

The meme was later removed from Atlantic's Facebook page. It is unclear if the restaurant staff removed the post, or if it was taken down by Facebook, which has a policy against hate speech and recently began removing posts that deny the Holocaust.

WBSM called Atlantic on Saturday afternoon and asked to speak to the owner. We were told that he wasn’t in and the best way to contact him was via email. We sent an email inquiring about the meme and the decision both to post it and take it down. After receiving no response, we sent another email on Sunday afternoon.

As of this writing, both emails have gone unanswered. We will update this story with any response from Atlantic ownership if we receive one.

Atlantic Sports Bar and Restaurant has a 4.4 out 5 rating on its Facebook page with 343 reviews. A few people posted negative reviews following Friday’s incident, and one commenter tried to offer insight. A person whose Facebook name is Nicole Beth said she knows the owners of the Atlantic and that “the ‘joke’ was no doubt in poor taste” but that “this characterization (of them) as bigots or antisemitic is incredibly unfair.”

“Let me tell you about these incredibly kind, tolerant and hard working people for a minute. They fly Pride flags outside of their establishment year round, they've had an advertised gender neutral bathroom since well before it was trendy. They pride themselves on giving second chances to addicts and ex-criminals, to the point where they actively seek them out in their hiring process,” she wrote. “They regularly donate food and time to community organizations and never look for a single second of praise or social media attention for doing so. During COVID they were out here, hemorrhaging money to keep people employed while they gave out frozen food and toilet paper to folks in need.”

“Is the owner a little rough around the edges? Sure,” she continued. “But without a doubt these are good, kind, loving people who don't have an antisemitic bone in their bodies, and it's wild that a meme that was posted and deleted within an hour could start a campaign to harm their business. Let's everyone just recognize that we've all made dumb decisions, show a little grace, and chill out.”

Commenter Jaiden Leary was concerned, however, that the owners had not addressed the issue even after removing the post.

“I think a ‘Holocaust joke’ in any capacity is antisemitic,” Leary wrote. “Making a joke about the Holocaust is inherently antisemitic, no matter if someone thinks its just light hearted, just a meme, etc. and I think it is important to hold people accountable for ‘poorly thought out’ jokes such as this because it truly is way deeper than that.”

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