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'I was shocked and speechless': Louisvillians criticize restaurant owner over social media posts

Fernando Martinez, one of the owners of Ole Restaurant Group, says the posts are satire.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The man behind one of Louisville’s fastest-growing restaurant groups is explaining his controversial Facebook posts as political satire, as outrage over them grows.

Fernando Martinez, one of the owners of Ole Restaurant Group, and the creator of El Taco Luchador, Guacamole, and La Bodeguita, said he didn't mean to offend anyone, he is not condoning violence and he's not homophobic.

Hundreds of people were angered by the posts as they made their rounds on social media.

One is a picture of a scene from the movie 'Brokeback Mountain,’ with one of the actors carrying a pink hammer and the words, 'Where's Nancy?'

The other was more graphic, but it, like the first meme, referenced the recent attack on Paul Pelosi and insinuated a relationship with the male attacker.

"I was shocked and speechless,” Pam Gersh, whose son is gay, said. “Oppressive language does more than promote violence, it is violence. That's not satire. That was a hammer taken to two gay men to kill them or hurt them, right after the attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband. That's not satire."

Gersh, who also has a friend who is transgender, said the LGBTQ+ community is disgusted with his homophobic and transphobic views. 

"We will no longer spend our hard-earned monies in establishments owned by such individuals," she said. "Actions have consequences.”

Martinez said the posts were satire and were "nothing towards any type of violence towards anyone in the gay community."

He said his son, and several of his employees, are a part of the LGBTQ community and he has "always been a champion of being who you are as a person."

The manager at La Bodeguita told WHAS11 Martinez treats all of his employees with the utmost respect.

Credit: Ian Hardwitt/WHAS-TV
La Bodeguita's (pictured above) restaurant's owner, Fernando Martinez, has faced criticism for recent social media posts. Nov. 4, 2022.

Christopher Thomas, a member of Derby City Sisters, a pro-LGTBQ organization, said the statement isn't enough to undo the harm that was caused. Now, he said he won't dine at any of the restaurants Martinez owns.

“I like those restaurants, but I'm not gonna give my money to a place that is actively denigrating people like me,” Thomas said.

Thomas, queer-identifying, has gotten more than 150 people to join his boycott, including Gersh.

They both said the posts are just echoes of the extreme political discourse and political violence across the country.

There's a level of vitriol in our society now that I've never seen in my lifetime,” Gersh said.


Read Martinez' full statement below:

There has obviously been some feedback from a political satire social media post that I reshared. I think there is harsh political satire on both sides of the spectrum, and do not condone violence. Now to address something that hits home to me. It is very very unfortunate that I have offended anyone in the gay community. The post to me was political satire and nothing towards any type of violence towards anyone in the gay community. With everything that I stand for I contest anyone stating that part of me holds any homophobic feelings. The simple statement of me being homophobic would mean to not love and support my son, and not only my son, several close friends and members of my work family. I have always been a champion of being who you are as a person whether it involves race, sexual orientation, and/or sexual preference and always someone that has said be proud of who you are.

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