Ink! Coffee in the Five Points area of Denver posted a sandwich board that glorified gentrification and upset residents.
The area, known as “the Harlem of the West”, has historically housed many black and Latino families but in recent years has seen an influx of other groups due to redevelopment plans by the city, which have raised rents for apartments as well as shops and forced longtime residents out.
“Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014,” read the front of Ink’s sign. “Nothing says gentrification like being able to order a cortado,” announced the back. The tone-deaf sign quickly went viral on social media after one resident photographed the offensive message and chastised the business’ decision.
"Yo @inkcoffee we are not cool with this sign ... Bad decision. Bad design. BAD. W.T.F.," tweeted local writer Ru Johnson.
Ink was quick to issue an apology via social media.
“Hmmm,” they began in their series of apologizing tweets. “We clearly drank too much of our own product and lost sight of what makes our community great.”
“Really apologize by.....closing down ur store,” tweeted Twitter user Zolee.
Ink! founder Keith Herbert apologized for the signs in a Twitter statement, but the damage appeared to be irreparably done.
Public outcry over the offensive signage escalated to vandalism. The store’s exterior had the words “white coffee” spray painted on it and a window was reportedly broken. A public demonstration called, “We Don’t Drink Ink” was even held outside of the store over the weekend.
We Don’t Drink Ink’s organizer Tay Anderson told The Denver Post, “They need to know that their actions speak very loudly, and it hurt a lot of us African-Americans who grew up in the community to see a sign that said, ‘Hey, we’ve been taking over your community since 2014.’”
As of Wednesday night of last week, the Ink! Facebook page disabled its reviews section, but its rating fell to 1.6 stars after hundreds of one-star reviews were reportedly posted. The Yelp page for that location also saw an influx of one-star reviews, and its rating plummeted to 1.5. Think this is one of the 10 worst restaurant social media disasters? You may be right.