The New York import lasted just under a year in Pittsburgh’s North Side.
The owner of D’s Six Pax & Dogz has been lambasted on the restaurant’s Facebook page for dressing in what appears to be blackface.
Dino DeFlavio who runs D’s went to a Halloween party Oct. 28 in a costume that some mistook as “Super Freak” Rick James. Instead, he says he was going for a tanned Gino Vannelli on the cover of the 1973 album “Crazy Life.” The picture was posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page by someone other than the owners and staff.
Mr. DeFlavio says he bought a wig and shoe polish that he thought was tan, but it appeared much darker on his skin.
“You don’t survive in business for 38 years and be anti-anything or -anybody,” Mr. DeFlavio said Monday. He says he employs “people of all races at our business,” and that growing up, “saying the N-word was as bad or worse than the F-word.”
Some responders on Facebook didn’t believe his explanation.
“It doesn’t look like he needs an ‘exaggerated tan,’” L. Parker Gibson’s account posted on D’s Facebook page. “I’ve been going to your shop for about 13 years now and have spent a fairly large amount of money. I’ve directed friends to your shop who have spent nice amounts of money as well. I won’t be back as long as this is acceptable, and neither will they.”
“Dino is a fan of Gino Vannelli and that was what his costume was meant to be,” reads the Six Pax & Dogz response. “I️ get you’re not seeing it. But that is the truth.”
Before the restaurant posted the “Crazy Life” album cover, the Facebook account of Wilkinsburg resident Phill Madore posted, “Please show us a pic of what he was going for then? Because all we see is racism. In a neighborhood that has already seen some vile racism these past few weeks. DO BETTER!!”
The social media exchanges unfolded after a noose was found tied to a tree limb in the 800 block of South Braddock Avenue. A black couple who park their car near the tree found the noose on Oct. 24. The incident is being investigated by the police.
“Obviously [the costume] was a misunderstanding,” says Dino DeFlavio Jr., Mr. DeFlavio’s son. “My father is catching a lot of heat for something he did not intend to be derogatory. He didn’t mean harm in any of this.”
Melissa McCart: email@example.com; Instagram @postgazettefood; Facebook @postgazettefood