BOYCOTT NINJA CITY KITCHEN & BAR
STOP CONSUMER INTIMIDATION
UPDATE: Bac Nguyen responded on October 30, 2014. We accept the response and the boycott is no longer in effect.
We have received Bac Nguyen's response and commend him for taking steps to hold himself accountable for his past misconduct.
We accept his response and we will no longer ask people to join, share, or continue the boycott.
We however make the following observations regarding his public statement http://www.ninjacity.com/apology.html:
1. “I said some really stupid things… I did act crazy, irrational, and said some horrible things.”
a. We perceive this as his concession that he made threats of violence, sexual and racial slurs, personal attacks.
2. “However, I am not a racist. I work with and employ people from all different ethnic backgrounds. One of my business partners is an Indian American woman, and she has provided the following statement on my behalf. I thank everyone who has reached out to me regarding the issue of me being racist, as people who know me personally know that this is not the case.”
a. We are not asking Bac to apologize for being a racist. We are asking him to apologize for making racist comments. Trotting out his Indian American business partner to declare that he is racism-free does not justify those comments or make them any less racist and sexist.
b. These are facts that will never change and always be offensive. Reference to a woman of South Asian descent as “Punjabi puss” is a racist and sexist comment. Reference to a woman as a “bitch,” “an ugly piece of shit,” or an “ugly Asian bitch” is sexist.
3. “I mistakenly assumed that the negative review was written personally and maliciously, and I was wrong. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don't expect every single person to love our food.”
a. We appreciate that he acknowledges that he made this assumption.
4. “Shortly after my outburst, I provided both a written apology and a video apology, which I am now sharing out of respect.”
a. This is a confusing statement. At the crux of our boycott, we took issue with the fact that AFTER Bac sent the written apology and the video apology, he CONTINUED to harass and taunt Ruchu, hashtagging Ruchu as a “fraud,” posting his full name, and even mocking the boycott campaign on your restaurant’s public social media sites.
b. We do not know who or what he is “respecting.” He shared his written apology and video apology, NEGATED by his subsequent continuing harassment. Sharing the apologies he contradicted afterwards with his actions only serves to win him sympathy points and further lead his supporters to believe that he was unduly targeted by Ruchu and this campaign.
5. “Ruchu – I have also reached out to you directly one more time as well, as I feel like I still owe you a face-to-face apology for both my original reaction as well as any subsequent actions on my part. However, I completely respect your decision if you’d still rather not meet.”
a. Clarification: Bac sent a direct email to Ruchu, October 30, 2014, at the same time he posted this public response.
b. From September 10, 2014 through October 29, 2014, Bac did not directly communicate with us or Ruchu.
6. “I’ve learned from this situation and will work to handle criticism better, and to control my temper.”
a. We perceive this to be Bac's (albeit vague) plan of action. We commend him for it and believe his plan will increase his success as a business owner.
We find the most disturbing aspect of Bac's apology is that it skirts around the fact that he continued to harass Ruchu and mock the boycott campaign after he sent his apologies. This is the basis on which our boycott and group was founded. However, Bac does address it significantly in his direct email to Ruchu, so that will be accepted and posted.
We, again, commend Bac Nguyen for taking steps to own and learn from his past misconduct.
We will update those who approach us with Bac's response and our acceptance of his response.
Clevelanders Against Consumer Intimidation
On September 8, 2014, customer Ruchu Tan posted a critical Yelp review of Bac Nguyen’s University Circle restaurant, Ninja City Kitchen and Bar. In response, Nguyen tracked down Tan on Facebook (they were not friends) and sent him intimidating messages, including threats of violence, personal attacks, allegations of promiscuity, and racist and sexist slurs against his friends and girlfriend (who was not part of the dining party).
Tan did not know Nguyen personally but shared mutual acquaintances. Tan and four of his friends, one of whom was South Asian woman Divya Agarwal, had gone to Ninja City Kitchen and Bar for dinner.
Nguyen eventually apologized, but only after Tan said he would otherwise go public with the messages he had sent. Unsurprisingly, Nguyen did not appear to have regretted his intimidating behavior: weeks after the apology, Nguyen continues to taunt and harass Tan on social media (documented here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/boycottninjacity/).
Nguyen’s actions imply he believes he is free to threaten, bully, and attack customers with impunity,as long as he says he makes a superficial apology afterwards.
Nguyen’s intimidation of customers shows not only a disturbing ignorance of professional conduct but also an unsettling disregard for his responsibility to his community. Cleveland is undergoing a renaissance,drawing visitors and newcomers the nation and world over. As a Cleveland business owner, Nguyen has contributed to and benefited from this movement. His intolerance and bullying tactics against customers hurt more than the individual customers. They hurt the country’s perception of Cleveland.
Cleveland is a proudly diverse and tolerant city, home to a dazzling myriad of cultures, ethnicities, religions, political viewpoints, cuisines and thriving businesses. Such intolerance, lack of professionalism, and threatening behavior has no place in our community.
We therefore call on the rest of the Cleveland community to help us protect Cleveland’s reputation and stop consumer intimidation by boycotting restaurants Ninja City Kitchen and Bar (University Circle) and Bac Bistro (Tremont), until Bac Nguyen is held accountable and takes the below steps to address his misconduct.
We demand that Bac Nguyen take full responsibility for his misconduct by issuing a public apology via
a) local news media/press;
b) the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for his restaurants; and/or
c) the websites for his restaurants, specifically stating
- what he is apologizing for, including (but not limited to) retaliation against critical customers by sending i) threats of violence; ii) sexual and racial slurs; and iii) personal attacks;
- acknowledging he and his associates have continued to harass the customer and his friends on social media even after he apologized, and he will immediately desist from continuing this harassment;
- the parties to whom he is apologizing: Ruchu Tan, Divya Agarwal, and friends;
- what steps he will take to prevent customer intimidation from recurring and ensuring a level of professionalism befitting a Cleveland business owner.
Until Bac Nguyen takes his responsibility as a Cleveland professional seriously, we will take our business elsewhere. It's Cleveland, so we won’t be running out of dining options anytime soon.
Clevelanders Against Consumer Intimidation