9/30/2014

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Slew of online hate reviews plagues 'Sweet Cakes' bakery

Slew of online hate reviews plagues 'Sweet Cakes' bakery
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GRESHAM, Ore. -- Before last week, Melissa Klein says her Gresham bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, had fewer than a dozen reviews on Yelp.

On Wednesday there were around 300. People from as far away as England have posted reviews – nearly all scathing – on the online business-review site.

“Tastes like hate,” a reviewer named John B. of Portland wrote on Tuesday.

“Whether or not your cakes are delicious or dry and disgusting is now completely irrelevant,” Elyse F. from New York also said Tuesday. “No one cares; almost all who hear about this will chose (sic) to take their business elsewhere so as to not support a discriminatory business.”

The barrage of negative comments began after the bakery made national news when the owners refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Melissa's husband Aaron Klein cited their religious position against same-sex marriage as the reason.

Investigators from the Oregon attorney general’s office are now examining whether the business violated the a 2007 Oregon law preventing businesses for discriminating based on sexual preference.

Wednesday morning, Melissa Klein said she was aware of the negative reviews, but was trying not to focus on them. She said her business is otherwise booming and that lots of folks have come to her bakery expressing well wishes.

“There’s nothing I can do about it. They’re allowed to do what they want to do,” Klein said. “It’s a little upsetting. There’s people writing on there who have never come to our shop.”

Klein said a friend alerted her to the Yelp reviews and she was horrified by them.

“People who claim to be so tolerant are not being very accepting of our beliefs,” she said. “It’s hurtful. It’s sad. We’re not hateful people. I have gay friends. We have acquaintances who are gay.”

The online backlash is apparently not affecting Sweet Cakes’ bottom line, either. Klein said she’s had to hire additional workers to keep up with the influx in business. One woman drove an hour to Sweet Cakes this week; she brought the bakery a Christian cross, Klein said.

The bakery’s phone is ringing off the hook. On Wednesday morning, there were 3,000 emails in Sweet Cakes’ inbox. Ninety-percent of the emails are positive, Klein said.

And none of the other online review sites has turned up overwhelmingly negative reviews, she said.

“I’m glad they’re not attacking all of our places,” Klein said.

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