Earlier this week, we woke to the news that a local, family owned restaurant was engulfed in flames. Within a few minutes, a friend had emailed me to let me know it was a place we had all visited together on many occasions over the years.  We were both sad for many reasons, but most of all, we were sad for the owners who were watching their life’s work be destroyed.

This particular establishment had been in business in the community for 40 years. Almost every member of the family worked there, and I can never remember a time that the owner’s mom didn’t greet us at the door, or a daughter didn’t wait on us, or that the owner himself didn’t come out from the kitchen to say hello. It truly was a passion, and a family affair. They were there every day.

The morning of the fire, I logged on to Facebook to check out coverage from the various news stations to learn what was happening. Unfortunately, the business was a total loss. But what made the news even more tragic were the some of the comments that people were posting about the business. I saw comments about how it’s no big loss – the place was “yuck” anyway; and “that place is nasty and needed to be burned down.”

Let me channel my inner Seth and Amy voice here — Really?????

Would any of these people have said this to the distraught family who just lost their business and livelihood? Did any of the people commenting know the family, or had they ever visited the establishment to know what they were talking about? This is a restaurant that has been part of the business community for 40 years, run by a nice family, who worked very hard.

It saddens me that behind the cloak of social media, people can be so cruel. I personally value, and have a lot of respect for independent business owners who work hard to build something. I feel welcomed by the small, personal atmosphere that such a business can offer.  Luckily, I did see many comments that shared my sentiment and showed support, but I was reminded how mean spirited some can be.

My lesson is this … if it’s not something you would say to the person’s face, don’t say it on social media either. Think about what you’re saying before you post it and how it will be received. To kick a family when they’re down, facing tragedy, is just wrong. They did nothing to deserve the loss they experienced, or the horrible comments that were posted online about them.

I wish them well as they determine what’s next, and plan to be among the first in line if and when they re-open.

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partner/marketing visionary/Don Henley worshipper