A Sydney restaurant owner who faced a backlash from the community after he posted homophobic messages on social media appears to have packed up and shut down his establishment. The Google listing for the restaurant said that it was “permanently closed.”
Iftekhar Hasan, the owner of Yilmaz Grill and Bakehouse located in the gay-friendly Waterloo area, had defended his Facebook post but later issued a lengthy apology after the online outrage resulted in people marking down the restaurant’s online ratings.
Star Observer wrote about the calls for boycott in September. We reached out to Hasan last week to check with him about the restaurant and will update the story when he responds to the request for a comment. The number listed for the restaurant was unavailable.
Keith, lives in the neighbourhood and runs a Sydney harbour-based boat hire company Stagsafloat, and was the first one to call out Hasan over his homophobic post. Keith, who requested we withhold his last name, said Hasan had added him as a friend on Facebook in 2017 after he agreed with his post on a social media group for the Zetland business community.
“Hasan added me and started to talk about his cars etc. He seemed nice enough at the time,” said Keith, which is why when he first saw the homophobic post he tried to warn Hasan about it.
“As a hetrosexual business owner living in this community, when I saw (Hasan’s post) it outraged me to think we have people around us operating businesses who actually have these beliefs and feel it is acceptable to share it openly. I commented on his post originally as I was friends with him, telling him basically he is an idiot and that he should not put stuff like this online as it may damage his business. His response was basically, ‘do what you want, you won’t hurt me and these are my views’. So I shared it far and wide within our local community and three weeks later he is closing the shop for good. Justice was served.”
Hasan was also featured on Channel 9’s A Current Affair program, where he walked back on his claims that his original post had been the result of the death by suicide of a friend who was “sexually abused by a gay man” in 2014. He told the program that he had shared the homophobic image as a joke: “It’s not about me being homophobic it’s just me sharing a meme that I’ve seen online.”
To recap, Hasan had in September 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. The text 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.”
Keith commented on Hasan’s post and reminded 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.” He then posted another comment, “They wanna take over now the dogs.”
“Let’s start with an apology to the LGBT community that I have enraged. I would sincerely ask you guys for your forgiveness.”
The apology however was too late with one user commenting that the “damage” had been done.