Last week, the owners of Pizza By Cer Té in Midtown East added a summer special to the menu, a pie made with fried chicken, watermelon, and sunflower seeds — and dubbed it Pic-a-Nika. The team said it was meant to reference a picnic lunch pronounced in an Italian accent, according to DNAinfo, but many took offense.
Members of activist group Millions March NYC started calling the restaurant to complain and protested outside on Friday, passing out fliers with the hashtags #boycottracism and #blacklivesmatter. In a note on Facebook the group wrote: "Racist restaurant Pizza By Cer Té on 56th & Lex is selling 'Pic-a-nika' pizza w/ fried chicken, watermelon, and sunflower seeds. And think thats ok...So you best believe we are shutting them down." Members were also urged to leave a review on restaurant's Yelp page, which many did.
The owners of the pizza shop quickly changed the name of the pizza to "picnic pizza" and apologized on Facebook with a post saying:
When we named the pizza 'Pic-a-nika' we disrespected an entire community, perpetuated a hurtful ideology and brought embarrassment to ourselves...In a time and climate when words carry so much charge, we chose beyond poorly and cannot erase or ignore the damaging effects it has caused.
Ultimately, the pizza was pulled from the menu and another note was posted saying: "We are sorry, and sincerely apologize for any hurt that we have caused. We thank you for all comments that have been sent our way via Facebook, Twitter, phone and email, and will continue to listen to your concerns."