‘Cash mob’ to descend on Chilliwack restaurants targeted by racist emails

FRANK LUBA
VANCOUVER DESI

Cash mob

Dale Johnson (left) and Scott McVetty are the organizers of the Chilliwack Cash Mob. A cash mob which is like a flash mob but without the singing and dancing. Submitted photo

Two restaurants in Chilliwack that recently received racially tinged emails will get a response of a different sort Friday.

The Bay Leaf and the Shandhar Hut, which both serve South Asian food, are being targeted by a “cash mob,” which organizer Scott McVetty said is like the social media phenomenon flash mob “but without the singing and dancing.”

McVetty said Wednesday a cash mob combines the flash mob with a shop-local initiative to help business — all through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and at no cost.

“We organize a group of people and go to the same venue and promise to spend some money,” said McVetty, a realtor who has organized a few other cash mobs with his “partner in crime” Dale Johnson, a web designer.

To avoid long lineups, McVetty is urging participants to go to the two restaurants for lunch, dinner or takeout. Anyone participating will be eligible for door prizes donated by other businesses.

Lucky Gulati of the Bay Leaf is happy about the initiative.

“That thing [the racial comments] was bad,” he said. “The people, they are supporting us, so that is a good thing.”

McVetty and Johnson gave credit for the idea to Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz, who called the pair into her office for a discussion.

Gaetz said she was monitoring social media sites discussing the situation being faced by the two restaurants, which had been told in an anonymous email that Chilliwack doesn’t need “folk from India and Surrey to pollute this city.”

Gaetz noticed that people were “incensed” by the comment and they wanted to respond by doing something like going for lunch. She was already aware of the previous Chilliwack Cash Mob efforts.

McVetty and Johnson didn’t need much persuading.

“I said to her, ‘When negative things happen, people watch to see how you’re going to react,’” recalled McVetty. “Right now, Canada is watching Chilliwack to see how we’ll react.”

Just a day after proposing to visit the two restaurants, the number of Facebook “likes” on the Chilliwack Cash Mob went up by 200 from what had been a stable 420.

“I think we’re in a period of time where you just can’t go out and say whatever you want, do whatever you want,” said McVetty. “There’s freedom of speech, but there’s also decency.”

Gaetz said she was acting on what Chilliwack residents were expressing.

“The community just said, ‘Enough of this,’” said Gaetz. “We certainly want people to know we are open to everyone.

“We’re going to celebrate that by eating food. How can it get any better than that?”

Gaetz is planning to participate in the cash mob.

“You bet,” she said. “It’s a good excuse for a date!”

Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth, the Chilliwack RCMP spokesman, was also supportive of the cash mob.

“I think it’s great the community is rallying around these people,” said Hollingsworth.

But the RCMP continue to investigate the emails, which were also sent to a taxi company. Police are urging the emails’ author to speak to them.

fluba@theprovince.com
twitter.com/frankluba

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