Italian restauranteur explains after calling County Durham town ‘Afghanistanley’

Italian restauranteur explains after calling County Durham town ‘Afghanistanley’

A business owner is facing backlash on social media after using an offensive term to describe a former mining town in County Durham.

Stanley residents have penned a controversial Facebook post by Tina Ion, the co-owner of Italian eatery Osteria Antonio, calling the area “Afghanistanley”.

The 46-year-old, who took over the restaurant in September, said it was a term she’d never heard before and came after a light-hearted chat with customers on Friday night.

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In her post, Tina, who is originally from Romania, said: “We are testing the market as we may be moving in Consett or Newcastle.

“Afghanistanley is a bit rough for the standards we are trying to offer but even if it happens it won’t be any time soon (I wish).

“That’s why we will still be here when the weather is nice to open the beer garden and have a barbecue outside.”

The Northern Echo: One of the exchanges on Facebook
The Northern Echo: One of the exchanges on Facebook

One of the exchanges on Facebook (Image: Facebook)

The post drew a lot of attention in the community’s Facebook groups over the weekend. People questioned if it was a publicity stunt or if the restaurant was copying the Karen’s Diner brand, where staff are intentionally rude to employees.

Others cannot understand why a business owner would post a post that would inevitably upset their customer base.

Leanne Smith wrote: “Have you really lost the plot?

“You’re just upsetting a large community. Doesn’t do your business any good at all.”

Tina said her posts were taken out of context after a rough start in running her business and were just a testament to her “wicked sense of humor”.

Beth Highley wrote: “I didn’t see any of the posts in any way, shape or form if it was ‘out of context'”.

“What you wrote was disgusting and offensive to most.”

Helen Taylor said she hasn’t changed her mind about trying the restaurant, despite good reviews from friends.

She said: “I’m afraid I won’t be going into your restaurant again after reading some of your comments last night wow just wow!!!

“I will take my hard-earned money elsewhere. I don’t think you have done yourself or your company any favors with your comments.”

Tina then appeared to take a defiant stance by promoting a special Afghani spicy chicken pizza.

She then wrote: “I apologize for the derogatory attribution.

“I now realize that Afghanistan sounds offensive.

“To the people of Afghanistan.”

Tina, a mother of one, who runs the restaurant at Hotel 52, a former nursing home, with her partner Antonio Grandieri, who is also 46.

The couple moved from Italy, where he is from, in 2018 and settled in Newcastle.

They used their savings to start the company and wanted to open a top-notch Italian restaurant with quality ingredients.

The Northern Echo: Authentic Italian cuisine is created by Antonio Grandieri
The Northern Echo: Authentic Italian cuisine is created by Antonio Grandieri

Authentic Italian cuisine is created by Antonio Grandieri (Image: Osteria Antonio)

Tina said they had issues with employees taking advantage of them by expecting free food for them and their families, and they had end up receiving fake negative reviews from people trying to hurt their business.

She said she made the Afghanistanley post as a joke and thought it would be received in the self-deprecating manner intended.

Tina said: “I heard that expression from people in Stanley and we had fun and laughed about it at the bar.

“They said they call it Afghanistanley. They said, “Your food is nice, but maybe it’s not in the right city.

“It’s full of Skint people and you should try to open somewhere else. They said we should buy cheap ingredients and just serve lots of fries with cheese.

“But we are Italian and we really care about preparing food. My partner is a chef and wants his food to be art. We don’t want to compromise.

“The expression just sounded really weird.”

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Tina said the couple may now have to sell their business and move out of town, but she hopes people would judge the “use of their taste buds” by the standard of the food.

She said: “I understand people are taking it out of context and I understand people are offended, but without the background people don’t fully understand it.

“I know it’s fun to have a common enemy, especially in small towns.”

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