A harsh review of a Lexington pizza slice went viral Monday night as thousands of Barstool Sports fans took to Yelp to trash the popular restaurant online.
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy posted a video to Twitter giving Goodfellas Pizzeria in the Distillery District a “0.0” rating after he said his slice was “ice cold.”
“This one could have been sitting around for a while. It is not warm,” Portnoy said to an unseen camera operator. As someone off-camera yelled out “9.1” to him, Portnoy began shaking his head and shouting: “It’s ice cold. They gave me an ice cold slice! Ice cold! You could go ice fishing with an igloo on this slice!”
Portnoy posts one-bite reviews online on Barstool’s own ratings site. He claimed in the video that this is the first time he’s ever given a “0.0” review.
As he began filming his review, an employee of the restaurant walked over and asked Portnoy, “Do you guys have permission to shoot on my patio today?” Other customers, who were not involved in the Barstool Sports review, could be seen in the background of the video.
When the employee told Portnoy, “I’m gonna need you to make your way out this way,” directing him to the parking lot, Portnoy gave his review of the slice.
“I’m going to give this a 0.0. Goodfellas, kicked out, national pizza review, 0.0!” Portnoy said. As the employee offered to take the pizza, “so you don’t litter,” Portnoy walked off towards the parking lot of the Pepper campus saying, “It’s trash! Trash! What a mistake that guy made! Kicked out!”
As someone else on the patio began shouting, “That’s Barstool Sports, man! Barstool!”, Portnoy walked off, spitting pizza and saying, “0.0” and “What a mistake! ... And it was ice cold.”
He said in the video it was the first time he’d ever been asked if he had permission to film.
Goodfellas Pizzeria owner Alex Coats said Tuesday morning knew that Portnoy and Barstool Sports were in Lexington and had alerted managers to be ready in case he dropped by; he’d reviewed their Indianapolis location a few years earlier and liked the pizza. So he wanted Lexington to be ready.
“Unfortunately, we dropped the ball,” he said. “They served him a cold slice of pizza and it escalated from there.”
Coats said that Barstool came in on Thursday evening, and he’d heard “it went bad,” but he didn’t know how bad.
“We try to instill in everyone that we hold a super-high standard, and we want the best product at all times. That’s what upsets us the most,” he said. “We’ve dropped the ball, all we can do is own it, correct ourselves and learn from our mistakes.”
Since Barstool Sports and Portnoy released the video, fans of the site — known as Stoolies — have left negative reviews of Goodfellas on Google and Yelp. Their Yelp rating, at least 4.3 out of 5 Monday afternoon, plummeted to 1.5 by Monday night.
Due to “unusual activity” on Yelp, comments and ratings for Goodfellas were temporarily disabled Tuesday morning.
Coats said that he and his partner Eric Boggs watched the business standing they’d built disappear.
“We’ve been working at this for 13 years and it went down the drain in a matter of hours,” Coats said.
The phone lines at the business and at stores in Lexington, Cincinnati and Indianapolis lit up with what he described as “hate calls. We had to shut down the phones,” he said.
But he said local fans have rallied around them.
“We’ve had a huge uproar ... and we have to say thank you,” Coats said. “They’ve got our back, supporting us. Shop Local Kentucky has created a ‘stand with Goodfellas’ hashtag, and we thank them immensely in our time of need.”
The negative review didn’t hurt Goodfellas’ business too much. During lunch time Tuesday, the restaurant had a line out the door at times, and Coats said the Mill Street location had a crowd too.
As for Portnoy, Coats said, “I’d want to say, sorry, we dropped the ball, Dave, love for you to come back and give us another try. ... I’d hand toss one myself.”
Portnoy responded Tuesday afternoon and accepted the apology, even allowing Goodfellas to have a redo next time he is in town.
He even said in a blog post he feels bad for the coverage Goodfellas has received.
“I did think this Goodfellas seemed like a pretty cool spot before the pizza drama began,” he said. “Now the fact they’d serve an ice cold slice without asking if the customer wanted it warmed up is really bad, but it does suck to have a random review ruin your entire customer service relationship. That’s not what I try to do with these things.”
The Barstool Sports crew was in Lexington for an event over the weekend, the Rough n’ Rowdy Brawl, an amateur boxing competition, at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Friday and Saturday.
Jones said he was bummed when he saw Portnoy did not like Goodfellas.
“I love Goodfellas. The pizza at Goodfellas is probably my favorite in the city, or one of them,” Jones said. “I was there when people suggested he go there. Local college students suggested he go there because they like it so much, and I’ve never had a cold slice there. But I don’t know if he did or not.”
Jones said Barstool’s experience in Lexington was still a positive one.
“It didn’t turn out well for Goodfellas, but for the city, over the course of the four days, it was positive,” Jones said. “Anything that makes Lexington look cool is positive. They were here and really liked Kentucky and really like Lexington. There are people from New York and Boston who will come here because of that.”
Portnoy is the founder of the Barstool Sports controversial sports and pop culture blog.
Fans of Barstool’s humor argue it is satire. But the site is embroiled in a feud with ESPN sportscaster Samantha Ponder, host of “Sunday NFL Coundown,” and has been accused of creating a culture of online hate, particularly toward female sportswriters.
Last week, Lexington Legends president and CEO Andy Shea said in an email that he was “excited” to bring Barstool Sports, “an international brand in the sports and media worlds,” to Lexington.
“It should be a great event for the city of Lexington, bringing people from all over the map and notoriety all over the globe,” Shea said of the boxing event, which was also broadcast on a pay-per-view basis. “The economic impact will surely be significant for Fayette County. We try to be pioneers in our industry and I believe we are doing just that.”