The hostility of the response spawned a Facebook group which encouraged members to boycott both of Nguyen's restaurants as a public stand against consumer intimidation.
Nguyen's defenders, who felt that the Yelp community does much more damage to the culinary scene than outbursts by chefs, and Nguyen's detractors, who argued that his attacks were indefensible regardless, advanced their positions in a spirited comments section.
Nguyen's statement is available in full on the Ninja City website, and we've included it below:
Hi everyone, this is Bac, chef/owner of Ninja City and Bac in Tremont. I'm also the guy that's been getting a lot of controversial press right now regarding an incident stemming from a Yelp review from September 8th, 2014. The fact is, I said some really stupid things. I'm genuinely sorry for saying those things. I wish I could take them back, but I can't. However, I'm here to apologize, and to try to make it right and learn from it.
A lot of things have been said about me lately, and I deserve much of it. I did act crazy, irrational, and said some horrible things. I can't deny that what I did was wrong. However, I am not a racist. I work with and employ people from all different ethnic backgrounds. One of my business partners is an Indian American woman, and she has provided the following statement on my behalf. I thank everyone who has reached out to me regarding the issue of me being racist, as people who know me personally know that this is not the case.
I'm not here to make any excuses. The simple fact is that I lost my temper in response to a negative online review that I misinterpreted as more personal than was intended. As a chef and small business owner, I take a lot of pride in my work. My business partners, family, friends and I pour our hearts and souls into what we do. Sometimes, it's difficult to hear criticism after you've invested so much hard work, time and money in something you're passionate about - especially when your business first opens. I mistakenly assumed that the negative review was written personally and maliciously, and I was wrong. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don't expect every single person to love our food.
To Ruchu and his friends – once again, I am sorry. I’m sorry for misinterpreting your criticism as personal, and responding so poorly. Shortly after my outburst, I provided both a written apology and a video apology, which I am now sharing out of respect. Ruchu – I have also reached out to you directly one more time as well, as I feel like I still owe you a face-to-face apology for both my original reaction as well as any subsequent actions on my part. However, I completely respect your decision if you’d still rather not meet.
To my fans and supporters, my staff, my business partners, my family and friends - I am sorry. I have always wanted to make you all proud. And to the city of Cleveland, a town that I've lived in my whole life and a town that I take incredible pride in - a town that has always supported and encouraged me, I am sorry to have brought negative light to our great city.
To the individuals who are members of the “Stop Consumer Intimidation” boycott group on Facebook, I’d like to extend an offer to you. If you are a member of this group as of 12:00pm on Thursday, October 30th, 2014, I welcome you to come enjoy a complimentary meal at Ninja City anytime between now and December 31st, 2014 (alcohol not included). All that I ask is that you kindly complete a comment card during your visit to share your opinions with us so that we can continue improving.
Once again, I'd just like to say how sorry I am. I'd like to think that people who know me personally know me as a good guy. But at the end of the day, I am human and I make mistakes. I've learned from this situation and will work to handle criticism better, and to control my temper. Thank you for your time.