The Italian dried pasta company whose CEO sparked a firestorm by saying he would never feature a gay family in his advertisements has opened a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.
The Wall Street Journal reports Academia Barilla opened up shop on 52nd Street and 6th Avenue roughly three months ago, but to minimum fanfare. The company reportedly envisions the venture as an "Italian version of Chipotle," with officials already eyeing expansion locations in Bryant Park and Herald Square.
While the multibillion-dollar company's inexpensive pasta is a familiar presence in American grocery stores, the restaurant's CEO has admitted it faces a tough challenge making a name for itself in New York City's competitive dining scene.
Another formidable challenge might be convincing New York City -- which is super, super gay -- that Barilla has learned from its public relations disaster back in September. The company's chairman, Guido Barilla, made extremely offensive anti-gay remarks during an interview on Italian radio.
"I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand," Barilla said. "For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company."
Following wide condemnation from gay rights activists and a call to boycott the brand, Barilla eventually apologized.
According to Academia Barilla's site, the restaurant hopes to welcome patrons with fresh ingredients and gather "families around the table, where happiness, friendship and celebration is shared, old relationships are nurtured and new ones created, every time."
It remains to be seen if that also includes gay families.
Update: A Barilla spokesperson reached out to The Huffington Post with the following:
"Within one week of his remarks this past September, the Barilla chairman, Guido Barilla, made a public apology and met privately with several LGBT leaders and organizations in Italy and the U.S. to personally apologize and to listen and learn about the evolution of the family. Since then, the company continues to make strong progress towards enhancing this commitment including supporting the Tyler Clementi Foundation and appointing the company's first Chief Diversity Officer."