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After protestors confronted Senator Ted Cruz and his wife at Fiola on Monday night, it was probably inevitable that Fabio Trabocchi’s downtown fine dining restaurant would face some online backlash. Sure enough, their Facebook and Yelp pages have been blasted by reviewers from across the country. Yelp has even invoked its “active cleanup alert.”
However, there has been some unexpected collateral damage. Starting last night, similarly ticked off trolls targeted Franco-Belgian favorite Et Voila! in the Palisades both in the form of angry phone calls and Facebook messages from individuals who are mixing up the two restaurants. Apparently, Fiola and Et Voila! look similar enough to cause confusion.
Chef-owner Claudio Pirollo happened to pick up the second call that came in. “They said, ‘Shame on you. You don’t know how to manage protestors. You should look at the video of what happened in your restaurant.’ They raised their voice and talked to me like I was nothing.”
At first, he had no idea what was happening. But when the third call came in, it clicked. Half a dozen similar calls came in before the end of the night and he personally handled them all.
“After I explained to them their mistake, they apologized,” says Pirollo. “I told them they should read and get their facts straights. People often misunderstand what they read. It usually makes me laugh. Like when we close for Thanksgiving and people think we are closing for good. But this wasn’t funny. When you attack someone like this, you can kill a business. It’s not right.”
Pirollo texted Trabocchi this morning to tell him about the case of mistaken identity, and Trabocchi apologized for the situation. “I feel bad for him,” says Pirollo. “I respect him and his restaurants. Sometimes it’s hard to manage these unexpected events.”
It wasn’t too long ago that another D.C. restaurant fell victim to mistaken identity. That one made a little more sense. Ranting online reviewers confused The Ren Hen in Bloomingdale with Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia. The latter eatery booted White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders mid-meal.