Last week, the owners of Chipped Cup, a popular coffee shop in Hamilton Heights, put a simple chalkboard sign outside. They drew a red equals sign in support of marriage equality, and posted a picture of it on Facebook with the phrase, “Peace, love, equality. #hamiltonheights.”
“We put up the equality sign without too much thought behind it,” owner Karen Cantor told Fork in the Road. “It seemed like the natural reaction for us. People had this issue on their mind.” But one angry customer took her rants to Twitter and Yelp (some of which are now immortalized on Reditt).
This prompted an outpouring of support from the Harlem (and national) community, which rallied around the Chipped Cup:
Cantor said one man who lived a few avenues over heard about the nasty comments and came into the shop to express his support. He gave them $100 anonymously. Cantor and Ding used the money to give away 50 free cups of coffee that morning. Harlem Public, a Hamilton Heights bar, tweeted, “Shouts to @ChippedCupNY. Doing the right thing as always. We can’t believe this is even a discussion. #equality.” Mark Otto, an openly gay candidate for City Council in Harlem’s District 7, also responded to the coffee shop on Twitter: “I am so grateful for your support.”
Commenters from across the country took to the cafe’s Facebook page. “We can’t WAIT to travel to the the Chipped Cup to sip java and laugh at all the bigots next time we visit!” wrote Justin Normand from Dallas. Even folks from other countries found their way to the Chipped Cup’s social-media presence. “Heard you in The Netherlands … thanks for standing for human rights and equality,” signed Lindsay Smith-Aronson.
“Politics and coffee shops go hand in hand,” Cantor said. She cited cafes from the ’50s and ’60s as being the center of artistic, political, and ideological debates in Paris and New York. To Cantor, the sign was just about being part of the conversation — on the day the chalkboard went up, March 28, 2.7 million people showed their support of marriage equality by changing their Facebook profile pictures to include an equals sign.