First American Fried Chicken in Elizabeth, New Jersey is owned by the family of suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami, and is now in the crosshairs of the angry internet.
Photo via Flickr user Steven Depolo
The past two days have been harrowing in the Tri-State Area, as multiple explosive devices—including one detonated in Manhattan's densely crowded Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 29—have been uncovered in public areas, presumably with the intention of causing mass harm.
This morning, police released information about suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami, a key suspect in the bombings, issuing an emergency alert to millions of citizens' cell phones with his name and providing the media with a photo, a physical description, and details about his family and upbringing. Just a few hours after his name and profile were released, Rahami was captured during a shootout with police.
One detail about Rahami, who was born in Afghanistan but is a US citizen and resident of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was that his family had experienced legal issues with the city, according to Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. Describing the conflict at a press conference this morning, Bollwage said that the family's restaurant—First American Fried Chicken—was open 24 hours and would often attract noisy, late-night crowds, leading to complaints from neighbors and eventually for the City Council to order that the restaurant stay open no later than 10 PM. When the Rahamis ignored the ordinance and continued to serve late into the night, one of Ahmad's brothers assaulted a police officer who came by to enforce the curfew and was subsequently arrested. The brother then fled to Afghanistan, and the Rahamis sued the mayor, City Council, and local police force on the grounds of racial and ethnic discrimination. Mayor Bollwage asserts that the crackdown on the fried-chicken restaurant was solely due to the public disturbances surrounding it, and not because of their family's heritage.
Now, the Yelp page for First American Fried Chicken is being trashed by commenters, many of whom are decrying the restaurant as a breeding ground for terrorism and posting tasteless jokes about pressure cookers and pulled pork sandwiches.
"Your restaurant should be closed down permanently and every member of your family should be deported back to TERRORSTAN," writes one commenter from Dallax, TX.
"Best pressure cooker cooked chicken on the east coast! [sic]" chimes in another from Corona, CA.
One man in Plano, Texas is just mad that they're calling Breyer's "premium" ice cream.
Since the comments started flooding in this morning, the restaurant's rating has dropped to two stars. Reviews from before the release of Ahmad's identity are generally positive, with one user applauding the halal burgers and another expressing appreciation for the fried chicken, fries, and Jamaican patties.
According to The New York Times, regulars at the restaurant say that Ahmad was friendly and didn't seem angry, "hung out on the sidewalk with friends," and often gave regulars free chicken. We have a feeling that that will no longer be the case.