PHOENIX - A Valley coffee shop that just barely opened its doors is under fire for an insensitive post to a social media site and has some local businesses calling for a boycott.
Red Hut Coffee, located in the historic Garfield District, officially opened for business over the holiday weekend to a lesser-than-hoped-for welcoming.
Ten days earlier Dave Marsh, the owner of the coffee shop, posted a picture of himself lying down with two homeless men while giving a “thumbs up” sign onto his business’s Facebook page.
That picture made its rounds and members of the Garfield Historic District took notice. And they’re not happy.
A Facebook post on Monday from the Garfield Historic District said they were “sickened by this business owner’s serious lack of compassion and better judgment.”
The post then calls for a boycott and to “not support this business. Buy local!”
Marsh said he deeply regrets the picture and hopes customers and the community will give him a second chance.
"If I had the chance to turn time back, I would have never made an insensitive post," said Marsh. "I ask for forgiveness and I ask for a second chance."
Marsh said prior to the picture being taken, the two men in the photo were seen fighting. Marsh said he had intervened to break up the fight, invited the men inside his shop and bought them pizza.
Unfortunately, in wake of the controversy surrounding the original post, the context of the image may be misunderstood by some.
Ray Bradford works as a volunteer at Tumbleweed, a youth homeless center in the area and expressed his opinion on the Facebook post.
"It was patently offensive to see a business owner in this neighborhood doing what appeared to be exploitation of homeless people, exploiting them for the purpose of making a buck," said Bradford.
Marsh reached out to Bradford and they met up in person where he was able to apologize face-to-face.
"We spoke and it seems to me that Dave, the owner of the coffee shop, it seems to me that he's sincere," said Bradford.
Marsh said he will be selling coffee for .25 cents during this week’s First Friday festival and will donate the proceeds to a local homeless shelter.
“I will do my best to let you see that I live in peace with all people and I seek to better my surroundings with love,” said a post from the Red Hut Coffee Facebook page.
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