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Notable NYC Palestinian Outlet Thrashed With Pathetic Reviews

Notable NYC Palestinian Outlet Thrashed With Pathetic Reviews

The owners of a popular group of Palestinian restaurants in New York are dealing with a wave of one-star reviews on their online review pages as tension flared following the militant group Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Palestinian American Ayat Masoud and her husband Abdul Elenani own multiple Palestinian restaurants across New York City and also have a location in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The couple founded their restaurant chain, Ayat, to celebrate Masoud’s love of cooking while also spreading “the message about what’s happening in Palestine through food and culture,” according to the New York Times .

Elenani told the local news outlet that he isn’t afraid of the criticism and that his primary frustration is that people “aren’t standing with the innocent people, whether it’s innocent Palestinians, innocent Israelis.”

“There are a lot of innocents on both sides that are getting affected, but a lot more right now, at this point, on the Palestinian side,” he said. “Literally, they’re bombing hospitals, schools. They tell them to evacuate and go to the south from Gaza, and then they start bombing the ambulances going there.”

A mural at their Bay Ridge location depicts a Palestinian child imprisoned in Jerusalem, while their East Village venue has a painting of a crying Palestinian woman. Their menus and takeout bags are emblazoned with the words “end the occupation.”

The mural of the Palestinian child received criticism online from one recent customer, who left a Yelp comment on October 17, which read “lucky you for persuading the misguided that a blatant anti-Israeli mural will add to the ambiance and distraction of subpar food.”

Ayat opened a new location in Manhattan last week, just days after the war broke out. While the restaurant has already received positive reviews from critics and attracted a diverse group of customers, Elenani says that they continue to experience harassment.

“We have people coming, throwing sh– at our restaurants almost every night,” the co-owner said, according to Hell Gate NYC .

The couple says that they initially received dozens of one-star reviews before Yelp was able to remove the negative ratings, the New York Times reports. Still, some remain including an October 16 review that read, “Bad food and bad people. Nothing else to add. This propaganda place does not belong in Brooklyn that we love.”

There are negative comments on the Google review pages for several of their locations. A review of their newly opened Manhattan location described the restaurant’s decor as “offensive” and said they should “skip the politics.” A comment on their Bay Ridge location claimed that the owners are “denying the atrocities committed by Hamas.”

“It really upsets me, because it affects all of us,” Elenani told Hell Gate NYC. “We have Jewish friends, we have Israeli friends, we work together, we do business together. It affects that relationship from human to human. It creates this useless debate that isn’t really called for.”

Additionally, the couple’s other restaurant Al Badawi received a slew of “sh—y phone calls,” Elenani told Hell Gate NYC.

This is not the first time that Masoud and Elenani have faced blowback for operating what they believe is the “only 100 percent-branded Palestinian restaurant in the country.”

In 2021, Elenani told Eater New York that one of his restaurants began receiving phone calls from someone claiming they were refused service for being Israeli. Elenani contacted the caller, who said they’d filmed the alleged incident.

The video was never posted online and Elenani believes that it does not exist but within a few hours of the call, several negative reviews were posted online and the restaurant received “anti-Palestinian” phone calls from blocked numbers.

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