Eater Los Angeles starts an unintentional, intense debate on Iranian Americans

Duplex Restaruant Google Street view Facade

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Google Street View snapshot of the soon-to-be restaurant's exterior in May 2011

Over at Eater: Los Angeles (one of LA's most read restaurant blogs), the week started out calm enough: Associate Editor Daniela Galarza visited the yet-to-open 3rd Street eatery Duplex for a sneak peek. She says the previously arranged tour was going smoothly, until they ran into the owner, John Makhani:

    He grew more angry with each passing moment. "How did you get in here? Give me your camera," he grabbed our point-and-shoot camera and began pressing all of the buttons, handling it roughly and cracking the viewfinder. "I'm confiscating your camera," he announced.

It makes for a pretty intense and strange story, of course. Worth a read. But what's even stranger is the response the story got in the post. Apparently when Galarza mentioned the two employees were speaking farsi, it set off a fuse with anonymous commenters. "He should go back to Iran!!!" said one. "Nobody likes to do business with Persians...not even Persians," remarked another

While it's no secret that anonymous commenters can write some intense, pretty inflammatory stuff--I was still kind of shocked by the intense anti-Iranian vibe coming through. As of 3:30pm Monday, about a dozen of the 100+ comments had pretty ugly things to say about Iranian Americans (to be fair, there's about the same amount commenters asking the racists to chill for a bit).

But what's even stranger is that the commenters are apparently regular readers: Galarza said Eater isn't seeing an especially high amount of these commenters clicking in from other websites. Galarza, who's half-Iranian herself, said she wasn't too surprised by the explosion of comments. "But I'm also half Puerto Rican," she said. "And if I said that they had been speaking Spanish... there wouldn't be the same reaction."

As for the restaurant and Makhani? Galarza said there's been only crickets since last week's post. "I haven't heard back," she said. "And I hope I don't."

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