Philadelphia may be known for its harshness toward visiting teams, but it didn’t actually go as far Tuesday evening as some news outlets made it seem.
The Houston Astros, who are playing three back-to-back World Series games on the Phillies’ home turf this week, hit up two South Philly restaurants — Mike’s BBQ and Angelo’s Pizzeria — with catering requests for their time in the city. But in both cases, it didn’t work out.
Why? The team’s requests weren’t within the shops’ operating hours — or in the case of Mike’s BBQ, their offerings, according to the restaurants on social media.
That’s not how NBC Sports Philadelphia framed the story in a Tuesday report, though: “Hilariously,” the outlet wrote in its web story, the two businesses had put “sports allegiances over money.”
The NBC report was based on social media posts from each of the restaurants earlier this week that had indicated they declined to serve the Astros, including one Instagram story post from Angelo’s where someone from the restaurant said, “If you think I cooked for the Astros, you’re out of your mind.”
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That article — and other, similar media reports from outlets including the New York Post and Barstool Sports — took the posts out of context, both restaurants and others close to them say now.
The Houston team reached out to Angelo’s to request a food order for after the game, according to stories posted to the pizzeria’s Instagram account, which would have been later than the store is usually open.
“The truth is, WE COULDN’T DO IT,” someone said in a video posted to the shop’s Instagram story. “At 11 o’clock at night. … If we’re open during hours of operation and we can accommodate, we don’t give a shit who you are.”
Per the pizzeria’s website, regular operating hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays. The “out of your mind” comment, the voice on the Insta story said, was a response to a bunch of Instagram DMs asking if a hoagie tray and cheesesteaks someone from the restaurant was taking to the stadium was meant for the Astros.
In the case of Mike’s BBQ, the team had mixed up owner Mike Strauss’s cell phone number with contact information for a different restaurateur. Someone who works for the Astros texted Strauss looking for “two Latin meals per day” from a Venazuelan restaurant, according to screenshots forwarded to Billy Penn.
Strauss found the mistake funny. He texted the team back saying they were mistaken, texted a chef friend about what had happened, and posted screenshots of both exchanges to the Mike’s BBQ Instagram.
“We thought it was hilarious,” Strauss said Wednesday afternoon. “I was like, ‘I’m not feeding them.’ I wasn’t feeding them anyway, because number 1, I don’t make Latin food. Number 2, she wasn’t looking for our food. And number 3, we weren’t even open.”
Before the post spread beyond the page’s typical followers, Strauss said, people were also finding the exchange pretty funny and understood his joking around, which he said he does frequently on the page.
After the post spread and news outlets started writing about it, Strauss said, he started receiving angry emails from Astros fans, and he saw comments online from locals about the move not being particularly hospitable. He responded by making an Instagram post explaining the situation further.
The restaurant has fed Phillies rivals before, Strauss said, including the Mets and the Braves. The criticism over a lack of hospitality would have been fair if he had indeed told the team to “screw off,” he added, but that wasn’t how things actually happened.
“People don’t actually read articles, they just read the headline and maybe the first couple sentences,” Strauss told Billy Penn. “So people get very upset.”
Both restaurants have been hit with a set of negative Google reviews in the past day — in some cases with new positive reviews from supportive customers to offset 1-star ratings. Many come from accounts that have never reviewed any other Philly establishments.
Meanwhile, as of early Wednesday afternoon, Yelp has temporarily issued an “Unusual Activity Alert” for Angelo’s page on the popular review website.
“This business recently received increased public attention, which often means people come to this page to post their views on the news,” the Yelp notice reads. “While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to this incident, we’ve temporarily disabled the posting of content to this page as we work to investigate whether the content you see here reflects actual consumer experiences rather than the recent events.”
As part of the Wednesday morning flood of Instagram stories on the Angelo’s account, a staff member at the shop recounted a prank call the shop received from a caller in Houston trying to order a pizza they weren’t planning to pick up.
The pizzeria doesn’t seem too bothered by the negativity coming at it: “I’m enjoying it, I think it’s funny, they’re ripping me apart in Houston apparently,” the voice on the Angelo’s Instagram story said on Wednesday. “I’m good! It’s two fan bases having a little fun during the highly contested series.”
Strauss said he’s only bothered in that he doesn’t want people to see his business as “petty” or a place that would refuse to serve certain people.
“At Mike’s BBQ, we embody the Philadelphia hospitality,” Strauss said. “You know, we’re the City of Brotherly Love. And we’ve always been that way with anyone that’s walked into our shop, no matter who they are — it doesn’t matter. And we have a long record of doing things like that.”