A Center City family-owned restaurant, where the possible suspects in a brutal assault dined prior to the violent altercation, is dealing with a flood of hostile reviews -- and a rumored boycott -- even though the BYOB decried the attackers' behavior publicly and cooperated with investigators.
"Boycott La Viola for not assisting the police in identifying the diners who attacked a group of gays," wrote Ginger K. of Mount Laurel, N.J. on Yelp. "Pure BS from restaurant management."
An image shared on social media showed a group of young people, dressed in similar attire as the alleged group who attacked a gay couple last Thursday, dining at La Viola Ovest.
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Angry comments inundated the Yelp reviews of La Viola Ovest and its smaller sister restaurant -- both located on the 200 block of South 16th Street -- as well as its Facebook page once the eatery was identified in a photo shared on Twitter.
"I have previously enjoyed La Viola, but choosing to stand by and do nothing is just as bad as participating..." wrote Kate M. of Philadelphia in another Yelp review.
Others called for La Viola to release the credit card information of its diners even though it only accepts cash.
Philadelphia Police confirmed the restaurant's staff have cooperated with authorities and the restaurant released a statement indicating they will continue to aid in the investigation as needed.
"La Viola is committed to cooperating with authorities in any investigation," the statement reads. "We were horrified to learn any of our patrons could have been involved in such a crime. Our thoughts are with the victims and we wish the gentlemen a speedy recovery."
The restaurant also invited the gay couple, who are still recovering from their injuries, in for a meal.
We would also be honored to host the victims for dinner when they feel up to it. Hoping they will get in touch w/ us. — La Viola (@LaViolaPhila) September 18, 2014
Seeing the backlash, others came to the restaurant's defense on social media, including @FanSince09 -- the anonymous Twitter account credited with catalyzing the investigation online.
DON'T BE STUPID AND CALL THE RESTAURANT IF YOU ARE NOT THE POLICE — occurredde09 (@FanSince09) September 17, 2014
The attack, which occured about two blocks away from the restaurant, remains under investigation. Authorities have interviewed at least four persons of interest in the case, but have yet to file charges against any suspects.