San Diego is a city divided when it comes to rooting for the Los Angeles Chargers.
That divide took a turn for the worse when someone directed their hate for the team toward the online review page of a local restaurant still celebrating fandom with its patrons.
The scene inside Cali Comfort BBQ in Spring Valley on Sunday for the Chargers playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens didn’t look very different from watch parties hosted there when the team was playing at Qualcomm Stadium.
“It was really busy. Standing room only,” Rauscha Gibson, an employee at the restaurant, said. And to the surprise of some, and to the dismay of others, it’s been that way at Cali Comfort since the team shipped north.
Someone apparently rubbed the wrong way by the BBQ joint’s continued powder blue zeal decided they’d write a false and inflammatory review on the popular consumer website Yelp in an effort to smear the restaurant and dissuade future customers.
The review posts were offensive and even included unflattering pictures of other restaurants.
The joint’s owner Shawn Walchef admits the move hit him hard, but he and others across the county never stopped loving the team.
“You know, whether they’re in Los Angeles or they’re in Anchorage, Alaska, we’re going to keep cheering for our team,” Walchef said.
He said his restaurant community’s fanhood shouldn’t bother anyone this much, and said the Yelp reviewer went too far.
“We might get a bad review and that’s totally legitimate but if you have never been to our restaurant and you’re just upset because we continue to cheer for the team that we’ve always cheered for and you write a fake review, that’s taking it a step too far,” he said.
Shawn says he contacted Yelp to get the review removed. His restaurant averages 4.5 stars on the site.
But that poster also shared the review on Twitter and told others to do the same.
Walchef called the petty smear campaign “heartbreaking.”
“Because of all the things to fight over, San Diego fights over a team,” he said. “This is a game. We’re talking about an NFL football game.”
On the bright side, Walchef says his customers have ignored the fight and the bad review, except for those who took it upon themselves to denounce the inconsiderate reviews on social media.
Walchef expects his restaurant to be standing only next Sunday, too. Cali Comfort’s doors will be open at 7 a.m.