Mangia Bene restaurant harassed after impersonator claims co-owner backs Hamas

Mangia Bene restaurant harassed after impersonator claims co-owner backs Hamas
Mangia Bene co-owner Jack Idnani said he hopes customers will remember the 20 plus years they've served the community and not believe the online impersonator ruining their businesses reputation. (Photo by Karina Kovac)

Italian restaurant Mangia Bene on Middle Neck Road in Great Neck said it has been the target of harassment and false accusations following an incident involving the impersonation of one of its co-owners on Facebook.

The impact on the Muslim-owned establishment’s reputation has been severe, leading to a decline in customers and business operations, one of the owners said.

Muslim co-owner Adam Almaghribi has been accused of posting pro-Hamas and pro-Palestinian content on Facebook, but the alleged impersonator spelled his last name wrong. Almaghribi has been busy mourning family lost in the Moroccan earthquake last month, visiting the country to mourn with his family and dig in the rubble last week.

He wrote on Facebook that the account has been deactivated and added: “I want to emphasize that I do not support any terrorist organization, including Hamas, or any act of violence towards innocent children and women. The graphic and tragic nature of such incidents have made it difficult for me to even watch the news.”

Co-owner Jack Idnani said customers began arriving last week, hurling derogatory slurs, spitting on their windows, harassing employees and calling in fake orders.

“The last two, three days have been very difficult … nobody’s walking in, parents are not walking in,” Idnani said. “Nobody’s ordering. My drivers are sitting over there. And at the same time, whoever did this, I think there are some people who are profiting from this because all the kosher pizzerias in the area, they’re doing very well and we are suffering.”

The situation took a turn when someone reported suspicious activity at Mangia Bene’s address to the police.

Idnani recounted a troubling incident where a woman arrived in a Mercedes Benz last week, urging the police to arrest them based on their ethnicity.

Idnani said he told her, “We just celebrated Columbus Day yesterday. We are all immigrants.”

The business’s landlord, a Jewish Persian man collecting rent at the time, was also targeted by the same woman, Idnani said, questioning his association with Mangia Bene and saying, “You should vacate this place and hide somewhere in a bunker because we’re coming after you, too,” Idnani recounted.

This led to a police assessing the incident for two hours at the shop.

Support from the community has started to emerge for the Italian restaurant.

Doug Brenner, a co-president of the Great Neck North High School PTO, defended Mangia Bene on Facebook, denouncing false allegations made.

“It looks like some shameless people have decided to take advantage of the crisis and tragedies in Israel to personally attack rival business owners,” he wrote, “I saw a post on a Great Neck group that one of the owners of Mangia Bene is a supporter of Hamas…this is complete fake nonsense. The owners of Mangia Bene are the furthest thing from antisemitic.”

Brenner said they have been a positive part of the community for over 20 years. “Just because they are not a kosher pizzeria, or one of the owners being Muslim, is a far cry from supporting Hamas. Do not believe fake postings of fake Facebook accounts being created to destroy good people’s lives and livelihoods.”

Some on Facebook wrote under the restaurant’s statement about the incident that they refuse to believe the owner has been impersonated.

“The beauty of the town is when you have all different kinds of vendors, that people have choices to go and eat at different places,” Idnani said.

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