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Photo via Paisano's/Facebook

New Mexico restaurant draws ire, makes profit off ‘Black Olives Matter’

When the Internet outraged over the restaurant's signage, it doubled-down and made T-shirts.


Lyz Lenz


Posted on Aug 16, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 6:15 am CDT

In an attempt to market a new ahi tuna dish with black olive tapenade, Paisano’s restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, put “Black Olives Matter” on its sign. The restaurant posted a photo of it to Facebook and the image quickly evoked responses across the internet.

Though the sign drew a lot of criticism—for playing off of the Black Lives Matter movement, which begun in response to the overwhelming number of black men shot by the police—it also brought in a lot of customers to the small Italian restaurant. As a result, the owner Rick Camuglia started selling merchandise. There are now “Black Olives Matter” T-shirts and hats. And according to Camuglia, business is booming.

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The restaurant is no stranger to provocative signs. In July, the restaurant posted some of their controversial signs from the past, including “Sex sells! Unfortunately, we only sell Italian food.”

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 And it appears that instead of backing down, Camuglia is leaning into the controversy. Camuglia told the local KOAT 7 news:

“It’s gone so viral. We’ve gotten calls from Australia, Spain, France, you name it,” Camuglia said.

He said he put together the shirts and hats because people who showed support asked if they could buy a souvenir from the restaurant.

All the while, Camuglia said business is soaring.
“People have filled the restaurant and told us to leave up the sign,” Camuglia said. “That’s great, you know, because a lot of people make a living off working for this restaurant.”

Of course, not every one is upset by the phrase. Supporters on Facebook are chiming in to tell Camuglia not to cower to politically correct culture. Others think this is done all in fun.

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The controversy isn’t dying down anytime soon—and neither, it would seem, are sales.

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*First Published: Aug 16, 2016, 1:38 pm CDT