NEW YORK -- A New York City restaurant has taken down a sign advertising its "big STRAIGHT ice cream" that raised eyebrows over the weekend.
Owners of the beloved Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, which is across Seventh Avenue from Gallo Nero, first tweeted a photo of the sign on Sunday, and backlash against Gallo Nero began quickly.
"Vanilla with some homophobia on the side?" tweeted @mmscooks.
"I'll go buy my ice cream where I know everyone is welcome. Shame on you, @GalloNeroNYC," tweeted @KnitterJen.
Eater published a short writeup about the sign with the headline "Gallo Nero Advertises Heteronormative Ice Cream."
By noon Monday, the sign was nowhere to be seen.
It was a "dumb joke," Gallo Nero's chef, who would only identify himself as Albano, told HuffPost on Monday. Albano said the employee responsible for the sign was fired, but later tried to walk back that claim.
He also insisted that the Italian eatery isn't at all homophobic. The West Village, Albano said, is the "gay capital" of the United States, and the restaurant would be "out of business in 24 hours" if it truly held anything against gays. (The restaurant is just around the corner from The Stonewall Inn.)
"We love you guys," he said, referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. When reached by Gothamist on Sunday, a manager at Gallo Nero was more incredulous about the sign. "What's the issue?" he said. "We can call our ice cream whatever we want."
Albano walked across the street to the Big Gay Ice Cream shop on Monday, where he shook hands with the the staff and assured the shop that his restaurant is very gay-friendly. One of the employees commented that he thought Gallo Nero's sign was "funny," and didn't see what the big deal was. He and another employee then served Albano a Bea Arthur (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche and crushed 'nilla wafers) and a Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt and chocolate dip.)
The Big Gay Ice Cream shop owners wouldn't comment on Albano's visit, but if these tweets from owner Doug Quint on Monday are any indication, the story got a little more attention than they anticipated:
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