The owners of Islamabad-based restaurant Cannoli Café Soul have come under public criticism for a video depicting them “humiliating” their manager for his English-speaking skills, leading to “#BoycottCannoli” becoming the top trend on Twitter today. Following this, Cannoli franchises in Lahore distanced themselves from the main restaurant in Islamabad, saying that the incident came as a “shock” to them as well.

The Correspondent spoke with Mian Qasim, one of the franchise owners of the Cannoli restaurant in Lahore’s Gulberg area, to understand how the backlash has affected them.

“First of all, I would like to clarify that we are not linked to the Cannoli restaurant in Islamabad. There are three franchises—two in Islamabad and one in Lahore—and all three have separate owners and management.”

“I didn’t have any idea that this had happened,” he clarified. “We started receiving negative online reviews at 12 pm, and I thought maybe we had messed up one of our orders. One of the negative reviewers shared the link of the video and I have been doing damage control ever since.”

“The Islamabad Cannoli has disabled tagging on social media posts, so everyone is tagging us in their comments,” he elaborated. “People told me to turn off tagging for my restaurant too, but I said we have done nothing wrong and we will defend ourselves. We have published clarifications and condemnations in both English and Urdu since the morning.”

When asked about his views on the viral video, Mian Qasim said: “I believe their actions are completely unacceptable. No one should insult people like that, and then put the video on social media. I know Awais—the manager in Islamabad—and he is a very good manager, very professional; he has dined in my restaurant in Lahore and I have been served by him in Islamabad. He has been with them for almost 10 years. They should not have done that to him.”

He went on to question why the manager’s English-speaking ability was in question in the first place. “I don’t know why he is supposed to speak English. 99% of customers will order in Urdu. Yes, the menu is in English, but everyone orders in Urdu—it is not like we are serving food in the UK or the USA.”  

“In the Cannoli restaurant in Lahore, we always prioritise professionalism over such frivolous things, and I hope the condemnable actions of some people in Islamabad don’t affect us in Lahore. We have just been open for six months, and the pandemic had forced us to shut down for large portions of it,” Mian Qasim said.


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