Following Allegations Of Harassment, $10 Million Lawsuit Filed Against San Diego Pizzeria

December 7, 2021

A San Diego-based pizzeria is being sued following accusations by its owner of prolonged harassment that included a decal-clad car parked outside the premises and a banner-backed plane flying overhead.

Last month we reported on allegations that American Pizza Manufacturing in La Jolla was dealing with a unique version of harassment that reportedly began with disparaging posts about the eatery and its owner on review sites and social media. American Pizza Manufacturing founder Andrew Melone stated that the antagonization then progressed to a Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 SUV and a very limited Ford Raptor Shelby Baja edition, both covered with decals of various fonts reading "Take N Bake Pizza Sucks", parking in the spaces directly in front of the take-and-bake pizzeria. The owner has also reported a plane flying over the area pulling a banner with messages like "Just Say No To Take N Bake Pizza" and "Carinos Pizza Is Better Than Take N Bake". The aforementioned Carino's restaurant sits directly next door to American Pizza MFG and has been in business since 1972.

Melone has alleged the individual behind the harassment is local resident Ajay Thakore. In response to Melone's accusations, a lawsuit was filed on November 10 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California by Gopher Media LLC (formerly known as Local Clicks and doing business as Doctor Multimedia) and Ajay Thakore. In the complaint, Plaintiffs assert they were organizing a First Amendment-protected boycott against American Pizza Manufacturing following racist treatment by the restaurant's owner. 

"Thakore has and does urge a boycott of AMP due to its practice of harassing members of the public that try to park in the Parking Spot that are not approved of by Defendants and/or that are not customers of AMP," reads paragraph 48 of the complaint.  "Thakore has also urged a boycott of AMP because of its false representations and advertising to the public regarding the freshness and quality of its ingredients and the food products it sells. Thakore has also urged a boycott of AMP because of its discriminatory and racist treatment of and attitude toward those of Arab, Indian (from India), and/or Asian descent. Thakore has also urged a boycott of AMP because of its discriminatory and racist treatment of and attitude toward members of the LGBQTIA community."

Andrew Melone opened American Pizza Manufacturing last summer amid the pandemic. The 1,700 square-foot eatery offers a menu centered around a variety of 12-14'' pizzas to be baked at home, as well as ready-to-eat pasta dishes, salads, and desserts. The location also houses a small market with a variety of grocery items and a selection of beer and wine for take away. Malone’s love for pizza led him to become an early investor in the now-defunct Chicago-based HomeMade Pizza Company, a similar bake-at-home concept which made Oprah’s list of the "50 Best Pizzas in America" and once operated more than 40 locations around the United States.

The lawsuit against American Pizza Manufacturing and Andrew Melone asks for "an award of actual and compensatory damages in an amount of $10 million and/or an amount to be proven at trial." The full copy of the complaint is included below.