The owners of the University of Arizona-area restaurant Cup It Up American Grill on Saturday apologized for bringing their personal political beliefs “into a business forum.”
The statement, sent to the Star and signed by Cup It Up owners Christopher Smith and Jay Warren, came after the pair was criticized for a Facebook post on Friday that laid out their political beliefs. Among them was support for President Trump and opposition to NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.
“Our decision to bring our personal political beliefs into a business forum is regretful, and for this we apologize to all,” the pair’s statement read.
Earlier Saturday, Smith had toyed with the idea of indefinitely closing the restaurant, located in the bustling Main Gate district near the UA, in light of the widespread condemnation for the politically charged post.
“It’s hate feedback and it’s for one reason only and it’s that we showed our support for Donald Trump,” he said Saturday morning. “There was nothing that we put in the post that was absolutely wrong and terrible in that we supported our president and our troops.”
Cup it Up’s Facebook post was up for three hours Friday before it was removed. On Saturday, the restaurant’s Facebook page was deleted.
In the Smith-Warren statement, the pair admitted they “never ever fathomed this would create such negative and hateful responses, including threats to burn down our building with us inside.”
“These types of comments have no place regardless of anyone’s political beliefs,” the statement read. “We assumed there would be some discussion and shares, but never this type of animosity and hostility.”
The pair also said Cup It Up operating partner Julian Alarcon was not involved in drafting Friday’s Facebook post, which listed global warming, fake news and political correctness among issues it opposed.
Alarcon, the architect of the restaurant’s multilayered meals-in-a-cup menu, submitted his resignation to his partners on Saturday and was working with an attorney to legally untangle himself from the restaurant at 760 N. Tyndall Ave.
“This is just the first step of me removing myself from this company,” he said, noting that he spent hours Friday night reaching out to diners, investors, employees and customers.
“I don’t know the reasoning for this,” he said, adding that business at the restaurant, which opened in early 2016 and moved to the North Tyndall Avenue space in April, had been good.
“We catered to several teams at the UA, plus the Alumni Association just picked us up as their preferred caterer this year. With all this coming on board with us, we were ecstatic,” Alarcon said.
Alarcon said the Facebook post and backlash cost the restaurant supporters and customers. Its 4.9-star Facebook rating, “which we worked really hard to get,” was at two stars by the time the page was deleted, he said.
Meanwhile, the Pima County Republican Party on Saturday morning took to Facebook to encourage people to support Cup It Up. Ana Henderson, the county GOP’s first vice chairman, invited people to the restaurant from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10.
“Those who hate and disparage freedom that was fought for by many in behalf of ALL and represented by our United States Flag must not be heard louder than you,” she wrote. “Those who ‘take a knee’ and lash out in our community at our freedom must witness our strength and our voice in our community. Do not surrender to enslavement. Stand together now — stand with me!”
When reached Saturday afternoon, Pima GOP Chairman David Eppihimer said he was not aware of the issue or the restaurant, but said the party supported the issues outlined in Cup It Up’s Facebook post.