Masterpiece Cakeshop: Yelp removes negative comments, while supporters create Facebook group

Categories: The Dish, Video

thinkstock gay wedding cake broken.jpg
Businesses across the country are coming out with stances on gay marriage, including Chick-Fil-A and Lakewood's own Masterpiece Cakeshop. The bakery does not create cakes for gay ceremonies.

The decision, publicized by rejected couple Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, made waves across the Internet, where those who object to the restaurant's refusal of service made Facebook pages, wrote Yelp reviews and crafted an online petition decrying Masterpiece that collected more than 2,000 signatures. Over the weekend, more than thirty protesters picketed the bakery with signs reading "Love is sweeter" and "Let the gays eat cake," urging a widespread boycott of the bakery.

See Also:
-Masterpiece Cakeshop refuses to bake a wedding cake for gay couple
-Masterpiece Cakeshop refuses gay wedding: Readers share their stories

"We have just been blown away by how many people have heard our story and the support we've gotten from around the world," says Mullins. On July 19, Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips refused the couple's request for a rainbow-layered cake to serve at their wedding reception. Since Westword blogged about the couple, their story has made it to such media outlets as the Advocate, both national and international. "When we posted [our story on Facebook], we thought that maybe family and friends and one friend of a friend would see it total, but now there's international news," he adds.

charlie craig and dave mullins.JPG
Courtesy of Dave Mullins
Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins have been together almost two years.
But there are no longer many Yelp reviews of the place: In the days following the early outcry against Masterpiece, the site removed input from more than a hundred commenters, who'd brought the bakery's overall score down from a score of four to below a one. The newly created complaints tackled the business's ethics and philosophical beliefs, not the quality of its cakes, and they were largely created by supporters of Craig and Mullins, not people who had not ordered a piece from the shop.

"Unfortunately, they have knocked my review and Charlie's mother's review off as well, even though I sent them a message telling them I had been there in person," Mullins says. In the meantime, protesters against the bakery have turned their negative attention to sites such as Google+ and Voice Places.

On Facebook, pages marked "Boycott Masterpiece Cakeshop" have garnered more than 500 supporters, some of whom helped organize last weekend's protest. But Mullins and Craig have also come under fire from those who support Masterpiece's decision to refuse service. On the "We Support Masterpiece Cakeshop" page , Facebook user Sharon Phillips-Wethington writes, "I created this page because the owners refuse to make a wedding cake for a couple of gay guys who are getting illegally married ... We are here to support them and their Christian beliefs ... We will ask God in prayer to keep this owner and his staff safe from the ultra left liberal who embraces homosexuals. He [owner Jack Phillips] has the right to refuse customers."

Although Craig and Mullins remain focused on their top priority -- planning their wedding in Provincetown, Massachusetts -- they "don't intend to detach from this issue," Mullins says. Last week, the owners of Lora's Donuts and Bakery heard about the couple's story and offered to bake the guys a reception cake for free. (Le Bakery Sensual had also previously offered support.) "They made a point of saying they care about these social issues and this is what they wanted to do," Craig says. "It was the exact opposite experience. We even tried to offer [one of the owners] compensation, at the very least for compensation materials, and he wasn't having it."

masterpiece cakeshop protest.jpg
Via Facebook
Protesters picketed Masterpiece Cakeshop last weekend.
Moving forward, the couple hopes to engage with their supporters to convince the bakery to change its policies. But in an interview with CBS4, Phillips said he would close down the bakery before reversing his beliefs -- and serving gay ceremonies.

"At this point, what we really want is for him to understand that his policy is discriminatory," Craig says. "The last thing we want to see is his business shut down. The economy is hard enough already, and we don't wish that on him, but on the news he said that if he was forced to serve wedding cakes to gay couples, he would close his store down. If that happened, we would not feel like that was our fault."

Craig, Mullins and the community that has arisen around them online will stage a second (and significantly larger) protest against the bakery this Saturday at 11 a.m.


Location Info

Masterpiece Cakeshop

3355 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Lakewood, CO

Category: Restaurant


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17 comments
dezine0317
dezine0317

Utter stupidity! How do you force a person, who does not want to. to bake you a cake? It will just taste sour in your mouth. Sour as in....

buff9786
buff9786

It's OK to lie on YELP but it is immoral to not sell a cake to someone.  That's messed up.

I can't imagine what it would be like to have one of the main accomplishments in one's life being that you forced someone to make you a cake.  Wow.

reality
reality

Perhaps someone should inform Sharon Phillips-Wethington that since they are getting married in MA, the marriage is in fact legal.

 

Between this and the Chick-fil-a thing, it seems that the LGBT community needs a major wake-up call.  On the support Chick-fil-a day, the company did record business.  And hardly anywhere did protesters show up for the kiss-in.  And it seems in this case, MC is experiencing a huge uptick in business, not the opposite.

 

I think the LGBT movement is out of touch with the opinions and beliefs of the majority of Americans.  Maybe b/c most LGBTs tend to live in major (or major-ish) urban centers, where the populace is generally liberal and/or tolerant.  Whether this is right, wrong, unfair, or whatever, activists need to take a hard look and this and really see what is going on everywhere - not just their little corner of the world.  This is the reality of the situation.

GFTW
GFTW

Happy Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day!! Mmmm, have to head to Masterpiece Cakeshop afterwards.... yummy yummy yummy. Shame on everybody else for trying to destroy businesses that Owebummer didn't actually build.

guest
guest

When did a bakery get so uppity about who they bake for??  JUST BAKE THE DAMN CAKE, BAKER. 

UseYelpCorrectly
UseYelpCorrectly

Also, shame on Westword for not noting that these "reviews" violate Yelp's TOS. Also, it's not strictly Yelp removing these rants, it's users fed up with the hijacking of their site and thus flagging the "reviews".

UseYelpCorrectly
UseYelpCorrectly

Same here. I've flagged both negative and positive reviews that have clearly been either rants and not reviews, or fake reviews. Both of these violate Yelp's TOS. Yelp is not a forum, it's a review site. If you want to go off on the business, do it elsewhere - Yelp is not the medium for it unless you have  a LEGITIMATE experience. This is what makes Yelp a useful tool compared to the rest of the wilderness of the internet.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

I have spent a lot of time flagging "reviews" of Masterpiece.

Both positive (1/10) and negative (9/10) over the past week+.

I say "reviews" because they were not. They were rants.

You can agree/disagree with the policies of Masterpiece, but you should not write a review if you have not used the services/purchased the product of the business.

OhandFU2
OhandFU2

 @GFTW ...then no doubt a final stop at a local XXX bookstore arcade (that Owebummer didn't build) to share a tasty "dessert" with an anonymous dude.

Anyone who openly patronizes a business because of their anti-gay policies has to have something to be hiding something.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

 @UseYelpCorrectly By this logic, nobody would ever be able to engage in social protest because there aren't any venues officially designated for protesting. Out in front of the bakery? Nope, don't do that - it's a sidewalk and is intended for people to walk on, not to protest on. Inside the store? Nope, that's a bakery, not a place for protest. Facebook or Twitter? Don't even bother, those are social media outlets, not social injustice forums.

 

I guess the idea of civil disobedience is a thing of the past. People aren't supposed to do things they're not supposed to do.

 

Yelp happens to be one of the ideal places to make a statement about the business practices of any given business. The fact that it's against the the usage policy of Yelp is of little consequence when social injustices are being addressed. Inevitably the non-conforming posts will be removed, but the message has been sent. 

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

 @davebarnes Good for you, Dave. Did it ever occur to you Yelpers that you probably never would have even noticed Masterpiece Bakery on Yelp if it hadn't been for a horrible experience that was subsequently reported in Cafe Society? How many reviews did the bakery have before this all happened - three or four? Would you ever have stumbled across this bakery's Yelp presence if not for someone reporting a direct business experience they had while dealing with employees and/or owners of the bakery? How is this not relevant to reviewing a business? It's one thing to remove a review where it clear that the writer has never set foot in the shop, but what about the removal of the original review by Mullins? How is his complaint any different than you complaining that there's no free wi-fi at Furr's? It has nothing to do with the food, but everything to do with what you expect in the form of good service. Yelpers, pull your heads out of the sand and look around - there are people whose lives are made more difficult every day simply because they are different than you. If a business's policies cause emotional distress to it's customers because of their skin color, sex or gender identity, disability, or lifestyle, it should be pointed out in every public outlet possible. Because it's not just about "them".

UseYelpCorrectly
UseYelpCorrectly

 @Mantonat I think you're stretching your analogies pretty far...

Sidewalk: Meant for walking and standing on, and you're allowed to do plenty of protesting while doing that.

Bakery: Private property, can kick people out if interfering with operations.

Facebook / Twitter: Meant to be a forum for pretty much anything. I'm missing how social media doesn't include announcing and discussing social injustice. You can post whatever the hell you please.

Yelp: A site to post reviews of your experiences with businesses. Didn't have any experience? Can't participate.

 

Pretty simple really. There are more than enough locations to protest and make voices heard. There are already reviews pertaining to the issue at hand, and those are fine because they were actual experiences. Anyone using Yelp to look for a cake maker will see it. Allowing rants and protests undermines the purpose of Yelp and renders it untrustworthy, therefor making not only the business suffer, but Yelp as well. So an innocent bystander should be allowed to be hurt too? I think not. Ranting and protesting does not undermine the other mediums you suggested. You're comparing apples to oranges.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

 @Mantonat We are in complete agreement about "It's one thing to remove a review where it clear that the writer has never set foot in the shop, but what about the removal of the original review by Mullins?"

You are absolutely correct that the original "spark" review should not have been removed.

I suspect that Yelp humans are simply overwhelmed by having to manually read and remove 550+ "non-reviews".

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

 @UseYelpCorrectly I'm pretty sure Yelp can handle the extra inconvenience for a while. As has been pointed out, the user community can flag content they don't feel is appropriate and then Yelp cleans it up. If it becomes a larger problem, Yelp can change their policies or figure out other ways to deal with it. They're all profit-making adults and can handle their own business. 

 

The main point is still the hatred and dehumanization of a specific group of people based on nothing other than the way they were born. But I guess if their problems inconvenience your ability to blithely read through a bunch of inane restaurant comments, then maybe we should tell them to go away. And I'm still not convinced that criticism of a business's discriminatory practices isn't a valid part of a business review. If the main problem is that many of the posters had never actually been to the bakery, then they should go, order a same-sex wedding cake, get declined, and then write about it on Yelp. In fact, gay or straight, everyone should do this if they care at all about the social issues at stake here.

UseYelpCorrectly
UseYelpCorrectly

 @Mantonat I understand why they're doing it: it's an easy way to voice their frustration (or support), it's visible, and they feel like they're making a difference. But the method they've chosen undermines the whole website. Other methods of protest are equally as effective and do not undermine any innocent bystander. Protesting on a sidewalk merely inconveniences someone - there's always another route around. Similarly, other mediums can be ignored by those who don't care. However, using Yelp this way sets a precedent that could quickly ruin its purpose, a purpose that's far more defined than your typical social media site and one that the site is dependent on to survive. Two wrongs do not make a right. It's a bigger picture than just this one situation.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

 @UseYelpCorrectly

 My point was that the people posting negative messages about the bakery probably knew they weren't using Yelp in accordance with policy and that the whole point of social protest is to disrupt the usual ways of doing things and to cause a commotion in order to bring attention to a specific injustice. To say "don't use Yelp that way" is pretty much exactly the same as someone complaining that protesters are making it hard for them to walk along the sidewalk to go buy a cake. Instead of complaining that the protesters are ruining your ultimately frivolous website, try to have a little compassion and understand why people are doing it in the first place. It's just a NIMBY attitude to wish for something like this to go away. Maybe positive change will make those inconvenient voices go away.

 

UseYelpCorrectly
UseYelpCorrectly

 @Mantonat Let's also not forget that there's a section of Yelp that is appropriate for protest, discussion, or what have you: the Talk threads. You can go to town on these.

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