Sophie, the cafe manager of White Rose Coffee House.
Sophie, the cafe manager of White Rose Coffee House.

Facebook post that killed a cafe

WHEN a coffee shop owner's 23-year-old daughter went on a Facebook rant about police officers late last week, little did she realise it would ruin her beloved business forever.

Kato Mele, the owner of the White Rose Coffeehouse in Lynn, Boston, went into major damage control when her daughter Sophie CK said she would "never allow a 'coffee with a cop' event to take place in my family's establishment ever".

"Coffee with a cop" was started in the US in 2011 as a chance for the community to speak with their local police officers over a cup of coffee.

When one of Sophie's Facebook friends said her opinion "sounds like a mistake" she pushed further.

"Absolutely not a mistake. Citizens do not need to humanise police officers, police officers need to humanise citizens, particularly black citizens why they seem to struggle with doing considering they keep murdering them," Sophie, who was a manager at White Rose, added.

In a separate post she wrote, "I will not be part of the false rhetoric that cops are just misunderstood good guys. They uphold an unjust system and murder without consequence."

Sophie CK, the cafe manager of White Rose Coffee House.
Sophie CK, the cafe manager of White Rose Coffee House.

As soon as Mele saw the posts, she demanded Sophie delete them, which she did, but unfortunately the damage was already done.

A large group from the website that originally published the comments descended on White Rose Coffeehouse's Facebook page, leaving hundreds of bad reviews and comments, ruining its original five-star rating it had built up over its first year.

Sophie received rape threats, the cafe phone rang off the hook with people abusing them, hoping they would drown or that their business was ruined.

"These are people targeting us for the stupid opinion of a 23-year-old," Mele told The Boston Globe .

"If I had social media when I was 23, I don't know what I would have done. We're all dumb at 23."

Mele released a lengthy statement to the local police department apologising and even the Lynn chief of police tried to douse the firestorm.

"This is a non-story," Michael Mageary, the police chief, told local paper Daily Item.

"This young lady has the right to say whatever she wants and we respect that. We will continue to do our job every day. My sense is that most officers will avoid the establishment, but that is their choice."

White Rose Coffeehouse in Lynn, south of Boston.
White Rose Coffeehouse in Lynn, south of Boston.

Mele used a public statement to apologise for the "reprehensible affront, distasteful, biased and hateful remarks made by the manager of the White Rose on a personal Facebook page".

Mele even fired her own daughter in a bid to get customers back into her empty store.

"As a beginning, I invite interested Lynn law enforcement to visit the White Rose on Monday, October 16, or anytime, to help us make amends, but more importantly provide us with some guidance and suggestions that through a cooperative effort will help make an ever improving Lynn," the statement read.

But despite everything, no police officers, or customers, showed up.

Tuesday was the same and less than a week after her daughter's original post, Mele is done with the coffee shop.

"What I have here is a family business that has no family," she told The Globe.

"Maybe I could weather this. But this used to be a place of joy for me, and I don't see a way that I will ever feel that way again."

Mele has since packed up all of the leftover food and has sent it to homeless shelters.

She's selling her apartment to make sure all her vendors can be paid for the full month.

"I've lost my business and I've lost my daughter … I don't know how this story just keeps building, but I need people to leave me alone," said Mele.

"I'm closing my business so I can stop being harassed."

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