Who founded Julianna’s Pizza? Anti-vaxxer goes on rant as NY restuarant won't let him in
A New York anti-vaxxer is currently going viral after he was caught harassing staff and shouting at customers in a video he appears to have uploaded. The incident in question occurred at Juliana's Pizza in Brooklyn, but it is unclear exactly when. Notable social media influencer Fifty Shades of Whey got hold of the video and uploaded it on Instagram and Twitter on September 15. He also put it up on Twitter, leading the pizzeria to respond, "We take the health and safety of our customers seriously."
With Americans increasingly divided over proven, effective vaccines, numerous anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers have been caught in viral videos. On September 7, a woman identified as Janene Hoskovek was caught coughing on a customer, and firmly refusing to wear a mask in Nebraska. On August 19, we reported on Matt Baker, a San Diego anti-vaxxer who went viral for his long rant against mandates. In early August, we also reported on Jodie Meschuk, a Colorado mom who was caught licking the refrigerator handle at a local supermarket.
Rather than take a safe, approved vaccine, numerous Americans have decided to turn to unapproved treatments like Ivermectic instead. To add to the chaos, they've also chosen to publicly attack mandates, as the man in the video did. He's been identified as Ray Valez, and his shenanigans have put Juliana's Pizza in the national spotlight. The store isn't any regular pizzeria though, it is part of NYC's legendary "pizza dynasties", because of its owner, whose name you might not know.
Who founded Juliana's Pizza?
The story of the fabled Juliana's can be traced back to Gennaro Lombardi, who is credited with opening the first pizzeria in the USA. One of Lombardi's students was Patsy Lancieri, the uncle of Juliana's founder Patsy Grimaldi. Reportedly, Grimaldi worked for his uncle at Patsy’s in East Harlem. In 1990, Grimaldi opened his own Patsy's on Fulton Street while his wife owned the original. Until 1998, the store remained a New York institution, after being rebranded as Grimaldi's due to a legal dispute. In 1998, at the age of 66, Grimaldi decided he had enough and sold Grimaldi's to Frank Ciolli.
However, that transaction didn't go down well with Grimaldi. He was made to feel unwelcome at the very restaurant he built, and was once shunned by a cook who reportedly said, "Look, you’re not my boss anymore." As time passed, Grimaldi's became mired in numerous controversies, and complaints of poor quality. That led Grimaldi to come out of retirement in 2012 and get back in the game - with Juliana's. Named after his mother, the store's opening was welcomed by Pizza geeks all over the city. "This is about one thing: getting his good name back," wrote Ed Levine, the editor-in-chief of the food blog Serious Eats when the store first opened.
Valez's rant staged, alleges Juliana's
In the video, Valez is seen filming the restaurant as he asks an employee "are you refusing to serve us?" He calls the demand for a vaccine card "segregation" and claims his family is "religiously exempt" from getting jabbed. The employee then asks Valez and his family to leave, to which he furiously asks other diners, "everybody in here is ok with that? Everybody in here with segregation in society? Oh, we don’t have our vaccine card so now the kids can’t eat? We can’t eat? This is the America you want to live in?"
In response, someone yells out "yep" and another man is seen showing his middle finger to Valez. 'You are not American," Valez snaps back. He and his wife continue yelling at other diners for a few minutes, with the video ending as others appear to ignore the couple. Here's the video as uploaded by a user, Fifty Shades of Whey, on Twitter-
Anti-vaxxers in Brooklyn cause a scene at a pizza restaurant and refuse to leave pic.twitter.com/QnGMlQtNmN— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) September 15, 2021
It's unclear if Valez and his family eventually left Juliana's, or if the pizzeria had to call the cops. Shortly after the video exploded on social media, the pizzeria said in a brief statement, "We take the health and safety of our customers seriously. We also face steep fines if we violate City Hall's order. We are permitted to and do accommodate unvaccinated individuals for outdoor, socially distanced dining & takeout. We appreciate your understanding & support." The restaurant also reportedly commented that the incident was "staged", and the family did not want to come in and dine, but merely to film the video.
In response, numerous people have slammed Valez and praised the pizzeria on social media. Some internet sleuths have identified Valez as a boxer who is also a prominent anti-vaxxer. His Instagram page is filled with anti-vaccine and anti-mask posts, and also appears to be the original uploader of the video. It's an unsavory, but very important addition to the story of Juliana's, a New York institution that many in the city are never likely to forget.