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Mediation may have solved growing crisis over an Uphams Corner pizza place

State Rep. Liz Miranda (Dorchester) and city officials say they've brokered a deal between Uphams House of Pizza on Columbia Road and a teenager who got into a beef with an employee there that could calm a tense situation that had spread into the community via videos on social media and sparked calls for a boycott of the 30-year-old pizza place.

As part of a 2 1/2-hour mediation session between owner Georgio Papadopoulos and the 16-year-old, both sides agreed to write public statements admitting a share of blame for a Jan. 16 incident in which a pizza slice was flung after what began as a simple disagreement over the girl trying to exchange a brownie she did not feel was good after she took a bite out of it. The session was organized by Miranda and representatives from Boston Police, Mayor Walsh's office and Uphams Corner Main Street to try to bring resolution between the son of Greek immigrants and the daughter of Cape Verdean immigrants.

Papadopoulos agreed to fire the worker involved in the spat and to have city specialists come in to "implement sensitivity and customer service training at our establishment."

Papadopoulos also agreed not to seek criminal charges against the 16-year-old and the friend with her that day - whom he said spat at the employee - after she admitted she had made some things up in a video she posted. "We understand how critical this point in their lives is and how criminalizing them could change the trajectory of their lives forever."

In response to the teen's video, Papadopoulos had posted surveillance video which he said showed the teen throwing the slice of pizza.

He added:

After 30 years of serving our neighborhood and supporting countless organizations and youth programs throughout the years, as well as employing a very diverse workforce mirroring the neighborhood in which we serve, we pray these corrective measures will help in regaining the communities forgiveness and trust going forward.

The teen, who described herself as a BPS honor student whose family has been patronizing Upham's House since before she was even born, in turn asked people to stop distributing copies of a video that appears to show a fight inside the restaurant - which was unrelated to the Jan. 16 incident - wrote she should have handled the situation better and pleaded with people to stop posting or reposting the "many negative videos, posts, comments and fake pages" that she said are demeaning and "not fully representative of either parties." One of the videos some linked to her case actually shows a disturbance inside the restaurant that happened a year ago.

The teen explained why she posted the video, in which she described the worker making disparaging comments about her and blacks - and in which she charged the worker threw pizza at her- and how she now regrets having taken the disagreement onto Facebook:

The incident left me feeling astounded and dismayed at the treatment we had received. It caused us to react in a manner that we are not accustomed to and we apologize for our behavior. Looking back at the situation, we acknowledge that we should not have handled this situation as we had as it's not at all reflective of the values instilled in us. I pride myself with being a kind, caring, responsible and respectful person. I am an honor roll high school student of Boston Public School, who works after school and still managed to be involved in many extracurricular activities.

She added:

This was definitely a learning experience for me, and I hope that this will be a valuable learning experience for Uphams House of Pizza and all other establishments in our neighborhood as well. Specifically, we plan to work with our elected officials, youth organizations, business owners and community leaders to educated local business on how to treat all their patrons with respect and dignity despite our differences. Also, we want to help lead and provide training to the youth in our neighborhood on how to mediate and de-escalate disparaging, tenuous situations they may encounter.

Miranda wrote on her Facebook page today.

Moving forward, I will connect the young people with youth leaders so that they work to improve youth/ community relations and the business will continue to work closely with the Uphams Corner Main Street program and the office of Neighborhood Services around Customer Service and cultural sensitivity training recommended by us.

We will meet again in 1 week.

She added:

There are a lot of problems that happen in our community that only get addressed in courts, jails, online and morgues; that we can solve through mediation and communication. We have the power to change that.

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Comments

No, the customer is not always right. But as an employee you aren't allowed to defend yourself or speak up for yourself. Anyone who works in customer service and believes in providing good customer service recognizes this.

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There are specific actions that the customer took (apparently almost all inappropriate) mentioned here, but not what the worker did. Curious if we know what really happened here?

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If you take out the pizza tossing, it sounds like she was really mouthing off to the kid about "her kind" and the like.

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I was distracted by the erroneous pizza accusation.

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The girl admitted she LIED about any comments like that being used. They both agreed there was an altercation, but "your kind" or "you people" was NEVER even said. So what justifies the kids behavior?

This is a tough neighborhood to do business in, i only worry not giving kids consequences for their actions will only breed more bad behavior. Case in point, the riot video they posted from last year that took place in the same pizza shop.

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city specialists come in to "implement sensitivity and customer service training at our establishment."

City specialists for sensitivity? When did this happen?

I worked at Mikey Vs in West Roxbury back in the day and if there were city specialists for sensitivity back then, they just would have shot Mike dead. He would mansplain things to a nun if they asked a stupid question. More than once when I told someone where I worked, they would tell me they were banned for one reason or another involving simple everyday restaurant foibles. Great chicken fingers, though.

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In what universe would West Roxbury have had a diversity problem back in the day? Parishioners from St. T's and Holy Name weren't mixing?

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Georgetown, captain. Plus Ridgecrest and High Point Village, which were just on the verge of their 40 year commitment IIRC.

Plus we delivered to Mt Ida in Newton which went from 99 percent white in the 80s to 20 percent black in the 2000s. Nice enough kids.... for kids. Same troubles with the snoots at Noble and Greeenough case for case.

(Holy Name alumnus here, for the record)

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I think, I wrote this movie.

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In my opinion it is one of the best American movies of the '90s.
Boycott Sal's Pizza!!!

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The film came out in the summer of 1989. I caught the first showing at the Nickelodeon.

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Upham's House runs a good and inclusive business. The charges that were being made on social media against the owners about being racists were way over the line and dead wrong. By my reckoning, the clientele is probably 95% POC. And the demographics of the employees are about the same. Including several CV kids working there that probably aren't much older than the girl involved in the incident. That's not the profile of a business that has no respect or sensitivity for the community they serve. They don't deserve the smack talk they've taken on account of one bad customer who acted like paying for a brownie made her the Queen.

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Glad cooler heads prevailed, but the employee losing a job is the one who was spat on and had something thrown at her., not the owner, so why is he the one to say whether charges should be sought? That is something the victim and BPD should work out.

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we live in when a video clip causes people to judge and then riot, and in turn have the back of the community. So sad. Who returns a cookie. Who after refund of said cookie takes it to this level. This "woke" generation. thats who.

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The clip purporting to show rioting was from an incident last year that had nothing to do with the current case.

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I am not sure that is accurate, as it was on several instagram accounts that are now taken down from that date of Jan 18

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Doesn't mean it came from that date. I mean, this comment I'm writing is dated Jan. 25, 2018, so does that mean the video below is also from today?

Nobody rioted in the pizza place on Jan. 18.

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Seems like a good result for all parties. Kudos to Rep. Miranda, who has impressed so far overall.

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Uphams corner house of pizza has the rudest employee's.

rude over the phone.& rude in person.

People look you dead in your face and continue talking with each other as if they don't see the PAYING customer waiting to be helped

This has happened to me more then once. i actually stopped buying from there because of the rudeness, making me feel undervalued as a paying customer.

I'm not picking sides...customer service is all.

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"Foodies" don't dine at neighborhood Greek pizza shops. Take a hike

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