Nfld. & Labrador

Homophobic, hateful phone call linked to food truck feud

Competing takeout owners along the Trans-Canada Highway near South Brook suspect a hateful, homophobic phone call is linked to an escalating dispute between their businesses.

Warning: This story contains foul language and homophobic slurs

According to James Snow, a caller phoned his business several times on Saturday afternoon. At first, it appeared to be an effort to get Snow to waste money and product, but soon escalated into slurs and hateful remarks. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

A recording of a hateful phone call — in which a gay business owner is called diseased and dirty — is being linked to an ongoing feud among takeout businesses in central Newfoundland.

In a tirade against Zippy's Take Out owner James Snow, a man uses homophobic slurs against Snow, says he isn't welcome in South Brook, and implies Snow carries HIV.

"Man, if you ever cut yourself, f--king blood, I'd have AIDS or whatever. And I'm pretty f--king pissed off with that. And you're gonna move out of that goddamn site where you're at down there. You're a f--king queer," the man says in one portion.

Snow and the owner of Original Johnny O's Take Out both say they believe the phone call has something to do with the tensions between their two businesses, located roughly 500 metres apart along the Trans-Canada Highway near South Brook.

But the business owners disagree on who is responsible for the tirade.

The man who made the phone call told Snow that he was willing to go to his food stand himself to speak. Snow says he's now worried about what might happen to his property. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"I honestly believe he was instigated into doing it," said Snow, who says he received and recorded the phone call on Saturday. 

"Now whether this was a competitor, a friend, who knows. But why would you go out of your way to call someone and be that hateful? There has to be some stemmed reasoning."

Call was hateful and threatening: Snow

Snow posted the two-minute recording on his personal Facebook page this week, asking his friends and followers for help identifying the male voice.

Just because a person is gay means they're vile, dirty and disgusting? No!- James Snow

He said the same man called his business several times on Saturday to harass him — first by attempting to order hundreds of dollars worth of food without providing payment, and then escalating to the conversation Snow recorded and posted.

This video contains foul and homophobic language.

South Brook business owner James Snow recorded a telephone conversation in which a man goes on a homophobic tirade 0:50

Snow says he is not HIV-positive, and says the caller is relying on hurtful and wrong assumptions about homosexuality and disease.

"I mean, my god, just because a person is gay means they're vile, dirty and disgusting? No!"

Snow says he has now installed several security cameras around his food stand. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Snow says many of his family and friends did not know he was gay until he posted the phone call. It's not how he wanted to tell people, but he said he was left with no choice — because keeping quiet felt too risky.

The business owner said even if there wasn't a specific threat made in the phone call, the call was definitely threatening — and he says he's worried about himself and his properties.

"Did I get any sleep last night? No. Did I get any sleep the night before? Very little," he said. "Does this man know where my house is? Is he capable of going and destroying my home? I have no idea."

Caller mentions rival business

During the two-minute call, the man mentions rival businesses four times. Three of those references are to Johnny O's, where the caller says he learned of Snow's sexual orientation.

We have been slandered.- Darlene Noseworthy

"I've eat your place [sic]," the man said. "I've eat your place in Grand Falls. I've eat your place out Springdale. And when Johnny O described who you was, I said, 'No, I don't want that. We don't want that.'"

Darlene Noseworthy, the owner of Johnny O's, told CBC that neither her business nor anyone affiliated with it had anything to do with the phone call — and they have never discussed Snow's sexual orientation.

"I know that did not happen. For one thing, I don't even know Jimmy Snow, I don't know anything about his sexuality, I have no desire to," she said. "And as regards to going around and saying that about people, that is not our character."

Darlene Noseworthy owns the Original Jimmy O's Take Out, a food truck on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway through South Brook. Her business is named in the tirade recorded by Snow, but she insists she and her partner had nothing to do with the phone call. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Noseworthy said the online recording, and the implication that her business is inciting people to send hateful messages to others, is defamatory. She says she has called a lawyer, and is urging police to investigate the call.

"I don't know what else to do, other than say that we have been slandered," she said. "Our business has been defamed. I've lost customers. I've had customers come here for 10 years that says they'll never come here no more, because this has come out. I don't know what else to do." 

She said the call should never have been posted to social media; instead, she said, Snow should have gone straight to police.

"Mr. Snow put out [many things] on Facebook about us before this, and now that my name is out there again it's being slandered," she said.

Police now investigating

A spokesperson for the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed today that the force has received a complaint about threatening phone calls, and an investigation is open.

Snow says he doesn't want the caller charged with a criminal offence, but he said he went to the police because he is worried about his safety.

Snow says he wants his business to be judged on the quality of the product, nothing else. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"I just want him to leave me alone," he said. "Stay away from me. I didn't do anything to you, why would you go out of your way to harm me or my business? Why would you even call me and say those things to me?"

Snow said he's not speaking out about the incident in an effort to get sympathy from his community — he says he just wants to be treated fairly, like any other business would.

"If you like my food, come back, simple. I mean, let me food speak for itself. Don't let the person that you think I am be the judge. Let my food speak for itself."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Garrett Barry

Journalist

Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander.