Pizzeria Sign Controversy: The Tale of the "Non-Stupid People" Sign

The story of the infamous “non-stupid people” sign, which sparked a nationwide controversy in 2017, began with a simple decision made by a small business owners. Alex and Debbie Sardar own the popular Dare to Pizza restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland. In an effort to keep out customers who were not familiar with their business model, they decided to hang a sign in the window of their establishment that read “No stupid people allowed.”

The sign quickly generated widespread criticism both locally and nationally. It was seen as offensive and even discriminatory by many individuals and organizations. One particular organization called United Against Discrimination wrote on their website that “no one should be judged or denigrated for failing to meet arbitrary standards of intelligence or having mental disabilities or physical disabilities”. This further fueled the fire of controversy and debate around the sign’s meaning, resulting in it being reported by major news outlets such as CNN and BBC among others.

In response to public outcry, Alex and Debbie decided to edit their original message and replaced it with another one that read “Sorry if we offended anyone; We welcome all non-stupid people!

The Pizzeria Sign Controversy

The Pizzeria Sign Controversy began when a sign was erected outside of a pizzeria in Cambridge, Massachusetts that read “Non-Stupid People Only.” The sign caused an uproar on social media, with many people taking offense to the seemingly exclusivist message.

The pizzeria owner later explained that the sign was not meant to be exclusionary, but rather a statement against ignorant or close-minded thinking. The sign has since been taken down, but the controversy continues to spark debate about the role of exclusionary language in society.

Background – why did the pizzeria post the sign in the first place?

The pizzeria in question posted the sign in an attempt to be funny. However, many people found the sign offensive and it sparked a lot of controversy. The owner of the pizzeria has since apologized for the sign and said that it was not meant to be hurtful.

Criticism of the Sign

Some people have criticized the sign for its message, saying that it is exclusionary and discriminatory against those with lower intelligence. Others have argued that the sign is simply a joke and not meant to be taken seriously.

Responses from Supporters and Opponents

When the sign went up, it didn’t take long for people to start chiming in with their opinions. Some were outraged, calling the sign sexist and calling for a boycott of the restaurant. Others thought it was hilarious and started sharing photos of it on social media. The owner of the restaurant, despite receiving some negative feedback, said that he wasn’t trying to offend anyone and that the sign was just meant to be funny.

Supporters of the sign argued that it wasn’t actually offensive and that people were overreacting. They pointed out that the sign was placed in a private business and that customers are free to choose whether or not they want to patronize the establishment. They also argued that if people found the sign truly offensive, they should just ignore it and move on.

Opponents of the sign said that it was blatantly sexist and demeaning to women. They argued that it perpetuates harmful stereotypes about women being stupid and incompetent. They also said that the sign is potentially harmful to customers who might see it and believe that the restaurant is a hostile environment for women.

How did Management Respond to the Backlash?

When the sign went up, management expected some pushback. But they didn’t expect the level of backlash they received. Social media lit up with angry posts and reviews, and people started calling and emailing to complain. Management tried to downplay the situation, but it quickly spiraled out of control.

They eventually took the sign down, but by then the damage was done. The incident caused a lot of bad publicity for the restaurant, and they lost a lot of business as a result. Management has since apologized for the incident, but it’s something they’ll always be remembered for.

Pizzeria Sign Controversy: The Tale of the "Non-Stupid People" Sign

The Debate Over Free Speech

The debate over free speech is one that has been around for centuries. The United States Constitution protects the right to free speech, but there are limits to what people can say and do in the name of free speech. For example, people cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. This is because it would cause panic and could lead to injuries.

Some people argue that the government should not be allowed to censor speech. They believe that people have the right to say whatever they want, even if it is offensive. Others argue that there are some types of speech that should not be protected, such as hate speech or threats of violence.

The issue of free speech often comes up in cases involving controversial topics like race, religion, or politics. People who hold different opinions on these topics may use offensive language when arguing with each other. This can make it difficult for others to have a reasonable discussion about the issue.

The pizzeria sign controversy is an example of the debate over free speech. The sign said “Non-stupid people are welcome.” Some people thought this was offensive and asked for it to be removed. The owner of the pizzeria refused to remove the sign, citing freedom of speech rights.

What Does This Mean for Businesses Going Forward?

The controversy surrounding the “Non-Stupid People” sign at a local pizzeria has brought forth many different opinions on what this means for businesses going forward. Some feel that this incident is a clear example of why businesses need to be more careful with their signage, while others believe that this is simply an isolated incident that does not reflect on businesses as a whole. Regardless of which side of the Argument you may fall on, there is no doubt that this story has shed light on an important issue that all businesses should be aware of.

As a business owner, it is important to think about how your signage might be interpreted by the public. In today’s age of social media, it only takes one misinterpreted sign to cause a major PR nightmare for your business. As we have seen with the recent controversy, even if your intentions are innocent, people can and will take offense to seemingly innocuous things like signage. In light of this, it is important to err on the side of caution when designing signs for your business. If there is any potential for ambiguity or offense, it is best to avoid it altogether.

While some may see this as an overreaction, it is important to remember that your business’s reputation is at stake whenever you put up a new sign. In a world where online reviews and word-of-mouth can make or break a business, it is not worth taking the risk of offending potential customers.


The Pizzeria Sign Controversy between the “Stupid People” sign and the eventual resolution of replacing it with a revised “Non-Stupid People” sign has brought out varying opinions. It is hard to determine whether the new message was necessary – but ultimately, this controversy displayed that public opinion matters in how businesses are operated and expressed outwardly. This episode also teaches us to be more mindful of our words when expressing complaints or approval and be sure they align with what we intend to communicate.