Big Apple Pizza’s Yelp review page turns into political battlefield after Obama visit

Tori Floyd
September 11, 2012

An enthusiastic pizza joint owner in Fort Pierce, Florida is getting some major attention on the restaurant review website Yelp. And let's just say the reviews are pretty mixed.

After giving the President of the United States a bear hug during a campaign stop, Scott Van Nuzer and his restaurant, Big Apple Pizza, began getting lots of buzz online. You can see Van Nuzer's now-famous embrace here:

What had many surprised at the move was Van Duzer's political leanings: the pizzeria owner identifies as a Republican. Van Duzer's crossing of party lines to give Obama a hug clearly did not sit well with certain Republicans, who have now taken to Big Apple Pizza's Yelp page to express their dissatisfaction, Good Morning America reports. As a result, Van Duzer's rating on the popular restaurant review site has fluctuated wildly over past day.

At first, the reviews pouring in were all negative 1-star (out of 5) reviews, commenting almost entirely on Van Duzer's political stance instead of the pepperoni. Many of the reviews were critical of the food, suggesting the pizza tasted like it was frozen, or that the crust was overcooked, but coincidentally, everyone decided to share these opinions since Obama's visit. Some were more transparent in their motives:

"The pizza is fine, but I'll never go there again because there are too many other great pizza places that don't treat the POTUS like he's some long-lost frat buddy. That was disrespectful and the insertion of suck-up politics made me lose my appetite for Big Apple Pizza.

All Mr. Bear Hug needed to do was to keep is mouth shut about being a pretend Republican. HE decided to make it political when he went on record. But no, he needed to make a point that big hulking Republican white men really dig Obama. Maybe some clever Dem will come up with Van Duzer Day."

"Not a chance i will ever eat here again. I have eaten there on my many trips to Florida, but never again. I will go to Chick-Fil-A instead, i will not support a person who supports a President who is a destroyer of American dreams."

But it wasn't long before those who support Obama (or who at least support Van Duzer and wanted to prevent the destruction of his restaurant's rating) took to Yelp to boost his rating back up, giving numerous five-star reviews — and some of them had even eaten there.

"He loves his President and his country. How unpatriotic, how cowardly (for lack of a better word), for people to use a food rating site to trash someone else's reputation for a simple gesture of love and respect.

Wouldn't do it if he had hugged Romney....why do it cause it was Obama?"

"I've never been here, but I'm giving it five stars to troll all the sad conservatives (-_-,,,) who are giving it one star because the owner hugged the President (^_^).

Hugs aren't political! Pizza isn't political! You're thinking of abortions and Mitt Romney's tax returns."

Since those supporting Van Duzer have gotten involved, Big Apple Pizza's rating on Yelp was back up to five stars (at the time of writing).

As one reviewer points out, Big Apple Pizza actually had a very positive rating prior to the "troll war" between those offended by Van Duzer's actions and those who retaliated to the backlash. Prior to Obama's visit, the restaurant had two reviews (both five stars).

Some reviewers have suggested that Yelp should turn off reviews on the pizzeria until the election is over. Yelp has responded, and according to Bloomberg Businessweek, the company will be going through the reviews to remove those that violate their Terms of Service, "including reviews that only attack a business's perceived political ideologies."