Fresno Thai restaurant forced to close after threats and rumors spread online

Kate Nemarich Image
Monday, May 22, 2023
Fresno Thai restaurant forced to close after threats and rumors spread online
A Fresno restaurant was forced to temporarily close after the owner says racist claims spread like wildfire online.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno restaurant was forced to temporarily close after the owner says racist claims spread like wildfire online.

The rumors were proven wrong, but the damage was already done.

Fresno police said they're investigating the threats against Tasty Thai in Fresno, but said it is too soon to say if the threats are a hate crime.

"It was basically 'go back to the country you came from you mother effing dog eater,'" said David Rasavong, Tasty Thai owner

Monday night, after putting his kids to bed, Rasavong noticed negative and offensive reviews for his restaurant Tasty Thai.

He reported the comments thinking that was the end of it, until the next morning. He said the racist claim was posted over and over again.

"These types of disgusting allegations, especially a stereotype, this Asian stereotype that I really can't believe still exists," said Rasavong. "It's hard for me to fathom that it still exists in this day and age."

Yelp removed the reviews. The threat to Rasavong's reputation and safety can't be erased that easily, forcing Tasty Thai to close its doors and Rasavong to file a police report.

Rasavong was confused and hurt by the sudden barrage, so he did some digging.

What he found was a video of a dog tied up to the home next to his restaurant.

Rasavong doesn't own the home and says he doesn't even know the owner.

"That's when I knew that triggered it and that's when just the world just kind of came crashing in on us, you know," said Rasavong.

Maria Alvarez Garcia, who posted the video, said her concerns were with the dog tied up outside of a home in the heat.

"When I saw that, yeah, I got pretty upset because it was cruel and inhumane the way that dog was," said Alvarez Garcia.

In replies to her earlier posts, you can see that Alvarez Garcia suggested the business next door was associated with the home, and may be selling dog meat.

Action News reporter Kate Nemarich asked Alvarez Garcia about the comments she made about the restaurant on Facebook.

"I never once reached out to that restaurant and posted anything negative or not even aware of not even on Yelp," said Alvarez Garcia. "You know, I'm not going to do that.

"But you did comment on Facebook, that you believe that they were selling dog meat at the market," replied Nemarich.

"At the beginning, yes. A lot of people believed that. A lot of people thought that they were related and that they were connected together. Yes, a lot of people they believe that. And a lot of people," said Alvarez Garcia.

"But you're saying you never said that, but you did in fact, say that on Facebook," said Nemarich.

"No, that's not what I said," said Alvarez Garcia.

Two days after those comments were posted, she released a follow-up video asking people to stop attacking Rasavong and his restaurant. She said she wants the focus to remain on the dog.

"Now we're requesting demanding an investigation," said Alvarez Garcia. "We're demanding to make sure that the dogs are okay and it's falling on deaf ears, just like the other accusations, just like the other reports."

Fresno Police investigated the claims and said the dog is not being abused.

As for the Tasty Thai comments and reviews, Rasavong will keep fighting, but he's worried about how far the rumors have already spread.

"We're talking hundreds of comments, 1000s of views 10s of 1000s of views," said Rasavong. "So it feels like damage, unfortunately, has been done."

Tasty Thai remains closed for the time being.

For news updates, follow Kate Nemarich on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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