PARMA, Ohio — After controversial comments by Joe Becker, the owner of Pierogi Joe’s food truck, made their rounds on social media, Rudy’s Strudel and Bakery has cut all businesses ties with him, according to Lidia Trempe, one of the bakery’s owners.
“We do not condone that sort of language that was utilized by Joe Becker, the owner of Pierogi Joe’s, and we don't condone racism. We have requested that he no longer park his truck near our store,” Rudy’s Strudel and Bakery said in a statement published to Facebook Wednesday.
Trempe said that she was made aware of “problematic” comments Becker was making on social media and had decided to cut business ties with him before seeing the News 5 article addressing those comments.
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“I found out after being contacted by one of these community Facebook groups that he’s involved in,” Trempe said. “They showed me the things he was writing and I was abhorred. We are so committed to diversity and inclusion at Rudy’s, that’s what we do in everything so to have something like that related to us is not possible, it’s not a possibility that will stand.”
Becker was called out on social media for comments he made about the black community the morning after the peaceful police violence and racial injustice protest that was cleaved by agitators in Cleveland.
“Where’s LeBron? Where are the black leaders? That group has problems that the civilized cannot ignore. We will judge,” Becker wrote.
When asked about the other races that were involved in the damage and destruction of property in Cleveland that night, Becker followed with more comments about the black community being “uncivilized.”
“Definitely isolated incidents. Let’s call it. The black community is uncivilized as seen by acts and the endorsement (or lack of) of black leaders,” Becker wrote.
Trempe said as soon as she read the comments Becker made, she called him to confront him.
“I called him immediately and told him if these statements are true then he is no longer allowed to do business with us on any level,” Trempe said. “I’m just so embarrassed that we had anything to do with him. We had no idea.”
Rudy’s Strudel and Bakery isn’t just a parking lot where Becker parks his food truck and sells food—it’s where he buys the pierogi he sells.
Trempe said that she knows banning him from not only selling food from their property but also refusing to sell their pierogi to him will result in a financial hit, but money doesn’t take priority in this situation.
“I stand up for my beliefs and my beliefs are that we are all equal and I can not have anything affiliated with me like that, that is so against every principle that I stand for,” Trempe said. “And I don’t care if we lose money, it doesn’t matter, justice and peace are what’s important here.”
“We make our own pierogi, all handmade from scratch, and he purchases them from us, like some other businesses do,” Trempe said. “Not anymore. Like I said, I’ll take a loss but I’ll never, ever enable injustice like that.”
Trempe said her business, which is an entirely female, immigrant-owned bakery, has been serving Eastern European cuisine in Cleveland since 1948. Tempe said her parents bought the shop from Hungarian immigrants in 1975 and has continued providing Northeast Ohio with paczki, strudel and of course, pierogi ever since.
“We’re an all female-owned, immigrant company,” Trempe said. “We know injustice as well—we would never condone that.”
Trempe said her mother was saddened to hear the comments as well and encouraged the decision to cut ties with Becker because it “goes against everything we’ve ever stood for.”
In addition to cutting all business ties with Becker, Trempe said she felt responsible to take further action.
“After the article, I sent it to the mayor of Parma, I sent it to my councilwoman and I sent it to the president of Polish Village—along with an apology,” Trempe said, her words breaking as she began to cry. “I apologize that I allowed that into the city. I had no idea, and I let them know, I’m incredibly embarrassed, just how could I be so stupid, so I contacted our delegation and city leaders to let them know what was going on and—I’m sorry.”
Trempe said that she and her business will continue moving forward, sans Pierogi Joe’s, and will aim to be an inclusive place for Northeast Ohioans to enjoy handmade pierogi, paczki and other European dishes.
“To know Cleveland is to know Rudy’s and that is all of Cleveland—everyone in Cleveland,” she said
Editors note: There is a Joe Becker who owns Becker's Bakeshop in Cleveland. That Joe Becker and his business are not affiliated with Pierogi Joe's or its owner.