Robert Portogallo owns Portogallo Peppers N’at and yesterday, posted on Facebook a photo of Nazis with Wolf and Levine’s faces superimposed. Portogallo wrote on the post, “Thursday’s lunch special is the Gestapo Combo,” in reference to the name of Nazi Germany’s secret police. Portogallo’s post continued saying, “The Levinie Wienie and Wolfe Waffle Fries for $5.99. Political opinions are free.”
The post has since been deleted, but it racked up more than dozens of comments, shares and engagements before being deleted.
Braddock Mayor Chardaé Jones condemned Portogallo's public post. She called it offensive and said that “Braddock is better than this.” On Facebook, she wrote that she has tried on several occasions to hold a community forum with Portogallo, but he has just directed her to speak to his lawyer.
Portogallo did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
This isn't the first time that Portogallo has made hateful and offensive comments. In April, Portogallo posted a photo of himself dressed in a wig, glasses, and pearls in an attempt to mock Levine, who is transgender. Prominent members of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community condemned Portogallo in April. Portogallo claimed he was unaware Levine is transgender, despite the bevy of stories about Levine being the first openly trans state cabinet member in history.
He attempted to apologize saying to WPXI, “If my humor was in poor taste I apologize because they’re offended by it.” He went on to say, “That’s just not me. I’m never going to degrade or insult someone on Facebook or embarrass them.”
Portogallo's post comparing Wolf and Levine to Nazis was put up less than four months after he was criticized for his transphobic post.
Pennsylvania Second Lady and Braddock resident Gisele Fetterman was also dismayed to see Portogallo make hateful posts.
“When Peppers opened in Braddock, they were received by the community with excited, open arms,” says Fetterman. “The amplifying of hurtful and hateful views has made residents feel that it is not a place for them.”