A restaurant in the “heart of gay Sydney” is facing calls for boycott after its owner posted a homophobic message on Facebook.

A social media backlash swiftly followed, but Iftekhar Hasan, the owner of Yilmaz Grill and Bakehouse in the Waterloo area, initially doubled down and defended his post. It was only after locals started to mark down his restaurant’s online rating that Hasan posted a lengthy apology. But by then as one person posted the “damage was done.”

The inner city suburb of Waterloo is located around three kilometres from Sydney’s CBD, and is close to Surry Hills and Darlinghurst. Hasan opened the restaurant a year ago selling pizza and burgers. One online profile has a photo of his green Lamborghini parked outside the restaurant.

Earlier this week he posted an image on Facebook with the message, “If you support these clowns unfriend me.” The image showed a figure kicking another one who was holding a rainbow flag and text that read, “Why should gay people have rights when we don’t have the right to not have to put up with seeing them in public? Share this if you are against gay people.”

One person commented on his post reminding him that he owned a business in a “very gay suburb in Sydney” and his post could damage his business. To this Hasan replied, “nome (sic) of my customers are gay. International students and travellers keep us going. If these ppl don’t come to my shop I won’t lose a cent of my net worth.” In another comment he said, “They wanna take over now the dogs.”

 Soon many started calling him out for over the homophobic posts, others went to the restaurant’s Facebook page and left bad reviews. The restaurant’s ratings tumbled down to 1.7.

“Food was terrible, but then homophobia always tastes awful,” posted one user. Another reviewer said, “I recently found out that the owner of this establishment invited hatred against LGBTQ+ people but has his shop in a predominantly LGBTQ+ area. Can anyone say, market analysis?”

Hit with calls of a boycott of his business and bad reviews, Hasan posted a lengthy apology on Friday.

“Let’s start with an apology to the LGBT community that I have enraged. I would sincerely ask you guys for your forgiveness.” He then claimed one of his friends had been “sexually abused by a gay man,” and this friend had later taken his life. He admitted that it wasn’t wise on his part to “paint everyone with the same brush.”

The post went on to narrate how the pandemic had affected his business.

“Covid is already ruining my livelihood and all the comments and reviews don’t help. I am not asking anyone to delete them, but after hearing my side of the story, if you do, I would very appreciate it.”

The apology, however, failed to quell the online outrage.

“Apology not accepted,” one person posted in response. Others called the apology “fake” or that the damage had been done, and that they would rather throw their money “down a drain before lining his narrow minded evil pockets.”

Soon afterwards, the restaurant’s page was taken down.

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