Arcobar in Moorabbin has been forced to hire a security guard after a sign taking a subtle jab at Andrews’ supporters attracted condemnation, leading to threats against its staff and owners.
“Do you support Dan? Add $1 to your order,” the sign displayed in the Melbourne café for a few weeks read.
However, speaking on Nine’s Today Show on Thursday, Arcobar co-owner Franz Madlene said his intention was not ill natured.
“It’s not political,” Mr Madlene said.
“It was put there as a bit of tongue-in-cheek, almost like a swear jar.”
Mr Madlene defended his decision, explaining that his staff has been subject to numerous “lecturers” from customers stating how lucky businesses like his are.
“They feel that if they buy a cup of coffee, they have the right to lecture us that we should feel grateful that we get to open in a couple of weeks’ time and we should feel lucky for what the government’s done,” he said.
“I just don’t think that for $3 that gives them the right to lecture us, I guess, anymore than them buying a $3 cup of coffee gives us a right to lecture them on our views.”
Although sticking to his guns, Mr Madlene admitted that his sign has gone “horribly wrong” over the last day or so.
“Initially, it was fine. About 30 people see the humour in it and put a dollar into the tip jar,” he said.
“But in the last 24 hours, since this sign has gone viral, the level of abuse and vial anger and personal attacks on the business, me and the staff yesterday, was completely over the top, to the extent that we had threats of rocks being thrown through the window.”
Police have now got involved, monitoring the online threats, and Mr Madlene has agreed to take the sign down to stem further backlash.
“The anger and frustration that is out there, I’ve never seen anything like it in 32 years of being in business,” Mr Madlene said.
“It’s just been shocking.”
The pressure on Dan Andrews to relax restrictions has intensified this week after the state’s rolling 14-day average dropped to 6.1.
Although the intended open date for hospitality businesses is 2 November, the Premier has hinted this could be brought forward to 26 October if numbers remain low.