The Black Forge
Coffee Shop has been fielding phone calls this week from people
around the country upset about the cafe's customer loyalty cards
featuring a who's who of prominent conservatives, according to
The idea puts a topical twist on a familiar perk: Buy a coffee
and the store punches a hole through a photo of Trump, Vice
President Mike Pence or one of the others. After all 10
conservatives are punched, the customer gets a free cup.
“We wanted to do something unique that would stand out,” said
Nick Miller, who has run the shop with his business partner
Ashley Corts for about 18 months. "It’s not a statement; it’s
really just a joke.”
More than a few people apparently were not amused.
While some people were calling the shop to voice their
displeasure, others emailed images of the owners' faces
superimposed with targets. Disparging comments about the shop
suddenly started popping up Facebook and Yelp.com.
"HORRIBLE PLACE," Yelp user Alexis K. of Oceanside, California,
wrote. "I refuse to support a busines who can act this way about
our president who WE ELECTED fair and square."
In addition to Trump and Pence, the cards feature the likenesses
of Senator Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator
from Pennsylvania. Rounding out the gallery are five
conservative commentators: Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill
O’Reilly, Mike Huckabee and Pat Robertson, as well as
controversial pharma executive Martin Shkreli.
The shop has been handing out the cards for months, but the
deluge of calls, many of them abusive, only started after Fox
News picked up the story on Wednesday, the co-owner says.
Fortunately, no one who has come into the shop in person has
been abusive to the staff, said Miller, a Democratic voter.
It may help that Black Forge is next door to a Pittsburgh police
stations, and many officers are regular customers, Miller said.
“They thought it was pretty funny,” he said. “They were
surprised no one could see it was just a joke."
Despite the ire that the cards have stirred up, Miller said he
has no regrets. After all, publicity is publicity - and business
is booming, he said.
(Editing By Frank McGurty and Cynthia Osterman)
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