President Donald Trump tweeted support Thursday for a Long Island pizzeria that was subject of a local Facebook controversy after a customer complained about the store flying a “Keep America Great” flag.
The Patio Pizza in St. James was inundated with calls after the president’s tweet promoting the pizzeria days after the woman’s Trump flag complaint went viral in local social media groups.
“Support Patio Pizza and its wonderful owner, Guy Caligiuri, in St. James, Long Island (N.Y.),” tweeted Trump, who’s seeking a second term in November. “Great Pizza!!!”
The president’s pizza promotion comes after he recently came under fire for his recent tweets in support of Goya Beans, which critics say is a breach of presidential ethics. Trump critics recently began boycotting Goya after the company’s CEO praised the president.
“I’m running out of pizza boxes!” Caligiuri told the Press.
He said that having been in business for more than 40 years, the customer’s in-store complaint and ensuing Facebook post didn’t faze him, despite the “nasty” comments that had been made. But what he didn’t expect was the “humbling” response.
“The response has just been incredible,’ Caligiuri said. “I’m getting people from all over Long Island, all over the nation, even from Cuba, and Australia saying they supported me.”
He said a quasi-Trump rally broke out after the customer’s Facebook complaint.
“There were Trump masks, T-shirts, hats,” he said. “At one point a man with a giant Trump flag sticking out of his sunroof drove by beeping loudly. The place went crazy with a huge ovation. Then a motorcycle drove by with a flag.”
“It was awe-inspiring,” he added.
He doesn’t believe the community support is politically motivated.
“The people who have supported me are coming out against bullying,” he said.
“Just because they see a flag, they think they can judge me?” he said, noting that his store has been an active contributor to the community, donating “thousands” to support those affected by the COVID-19 crisis. “They don’t know me…They have to look beyond the flag.”
The president’s pizza tweet received more than 106,000 likes and over 32,000 retweets as of Friday morning.
“People have been blowing up my phone, asking me if we ship,” an employee told Caligiuri.
To Caligiuri’s knowledge, Trump has never tried Patio Pizza.
It wasn’t the first time Trump has weighed in on a local controversy. The president repeatedly retweeted News12 Long Island reporter Kevin Vesey’s video showing Trump supporters harassing him at an anti-coronavirus lockdown rally in May. Trump retweeted the video with the chant the supporters used: “Fake news is not essential.”
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