The owner of Roman Gourmet has apologized for allowing an ABC-TV show into his eatery to film a misleading episode involving false reports of a missing girl in town.
Vinnie Loffredo, who owns the Maplewood Village mainstay, said he was misled by the program, What Would You Do?, which filmed an episode in his restaurant Tuesday.
The episode revolved around customers believing that a child who was reported missing had walked into the pizzeria with a stranger.
The sting was set up at 9 a.m. with producers placing fake posters around the restaurant and having an actress playing the missing child come in with an adult.
Since it occurred, some have unfairly criticized Loffredo via Maplewoodonline and other outlets. He issued this apology today:
My name is Vinnie Loffredo and I am the owner of the Roman Gourmet. First and foremost I would like to sincerely apologize not only to my customers, but to the entire Maplewood community for saying yes to a show being filmed in my pizzeria which was entirely dishonest. I was totally unaware of the ramifications of a show like this and was completely duped into believing it was a good thing for the community because I was told “it encourages people to speak up in public in important circumstances.” Once I learned the premise for the episode, I felt completely uncomfortable and told the producers to end the production. Because of the time and effort they said they put into set up, they would not leave until I physically removed them from the pizzeria six hours ahead of their schedule. I am extremely distraught over this and would never, ever believe a show based on an abducted child is acceptable at any level, especially since I am the father of three children. Unfortunately, I made a huge mistake in trusting the producers of this “gotcha” type of show before I learned more about it in advance. Please accept my apology, I would never intentionally hurt anyone. Thank you.
We reached out to Loffredo to find out what happened and he said he was misled.
“I do not like this show at all,” he said via phone. “What happened was about two weeks ago a nice young guy and girl sat me down and said they loved this town, the said they need this place to do a show.”
He said he did not hear from them again for weeks until late Monday when they called and said they would come in the next day.
Loffredo said the crew showed up at 9 a.m. and began to install hidden cameras and equipment.
“By 11:15 a.m. I tried to kick them out, they said I couldn’t. I was not paid one cent for it, I never signed anything. I think they realized they got some fool,” he said, adding that at one point host John Quinones came in and insisted they be allowed to finish.
“Right about two o’clock I had it and said I wanted them to leave now,” he said. “I think they saw I had it, I kicked the actor and the actress out. They were harassing my customers. I wish this thing never happened.”
Anyone who knows Roman Gourmet knows it is an upstanding business and they have no reason to apologize for what a television crew did.
If you agree, throw them some extra business today.
Perhaps the township, which received more than $1,000 for a filming permit, should give some of that to Roman Gourmet.