Online lynch mob

Diner owner defends right to question patron with service dog


The owners of Eddie’s Diner, Eddie and Paula Azevedo, say that they have been harshly – and wrongfully – attacked on Facebook and Yelp following an incident involving John Sears, his son Michael, who has autism, and Michael’s service dog. The Azevedos think that the truth surrounding the incident has been misconstrued – or downright lied about – and a “lynch mob” has formed online seeking to denigrate their restaurant.

The incident, which was covered in a Herald story last week, happened on Saturday, June 30, when the Sears’ brought their dog into Eddie’s Diner and John and Eddie got into a verbal confrontation about whether or not the dog could be allowed into the restaurant.

The video footage from inside the restaurant that day, which doesn’t have any audio attached, shows Eddie walking out of the bathroom and to the kitchen as the Sears enter the restaurant with their dog. Azevedo then turns around and begins talking to the John Sears, who is near the door. After exchanging words from across the restaurant, the Sears walk out of the door and Azevedo follows them outside, which is the extent of what the video footage shows.

Azevedo said that he had never seen Sears or the dog before that morning and when he saw the dog he immediately thought about the food code and how the dog being in there might have an effect on the other customers in the restaurant. He said he’s had seeing-eye dogs in the restaurant before, but asked if this dog was trained because it “wasn’t obvious” that Sears needed assistance.

“I was focused only on the dog and the handler,” Azevedo said. “I wasn’t focused on the child.”

The child is seen in the video standing behind Sears, who is the one holding the dog’s leash.

The law regarding service dogs in restaurants, according to the Secretary of State’s office, states that service dogs are allowed in this situation:

In areas that are not used for food preparation and that are usually open for customers, such as dining and sales areas, service animals that are controlled by the disabled employee or person, if a health or safety hazard will not result from the presence or activities of the service animal.

Azevedo reasons that because John was the one handling the dog at the time, he was within his rights to question him about having the dog inside the restaurant.

Sears, in a conversation Tuesday morning, said that he and his wife handle the dog when they bring it out because their son is only 8 years old and doesn’t know the right commands. Sears also referenced American Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations through the Department of Justice, which state that service dogs (a term that applies to any dog specially trained to assist a disabled person) are allowed to accompany the person around a restaurant.

Sears said that during the incident, Azevedo asked if the dog was a “seeing-eye dog” and when he said it wasn’t they began arguing about what the laws were, and Azevedo “blew up on him.”

Sears said that Azevedo began swearing at him and he didn’t say anything confrontational back. However, Azevedo said that Sears yelled a profanity at him as he was leaving the restaurant, which he said prompted him to follow him outside and tell him he shouldn’t be acting that way in front of his son. Azevedo said that Sears “went off on him” after he questioned whether the dog was a seeing-eye dog.

Azevedo also has contentions about some of the reporting that has been done on the incident, especially on Facebook. One of his issues is with Julie Cotoia, who told the Herald last week that she was in the restaurant at the time of the incident and witnessed the confrontation.

Cotoia said in a conversation Monday that she was in the bathroom when the “yelling” began, and went outside to join her friends while the argument between the two men was ongoing. Video surveillance, however, doesn’t show anyone leaving the bathroom or moving at all in the restaurant during the incident, and furthermore nobody comes out of the restaurant in the minute following the incident.

Sears said that he’s never met Cotoia before and she “hunted him down on Facebook,” adding that maybe she “wants to put her nose into something.”

Cotoia said she wanted to “help” in any way she could in solving the issue.

“I don’t have anything against the restaurant, against the diner,” she said. “But I think the owner could have taken a better approach. I felt bad for the family. I figured I was doing the right thing by speaking as a witness. I just hope they resolve this.”

Cotoia, in addition to her statement to the Herald, joined a group of people who posted online about the incident in the days since. Cotoia posted a long Facebook statement that included a claim that she was served raw eggs at the diner.

Sears originally got the ball rolling when he posted on Facebook that day, writing that they were chased out of the restaurant while the owner was swearing at them. He also encouraged the readers of the post to “boycott Eddie’s Diner.”

“He needs to know the laws, the right thing to do in that situation,” Sears said about why he took to Facebook to tell other people about the incident. “What if I was a serviceman and that dog was mine? I was in the Army for 22 years. A disability isn’t always something you can see, he has to know what’s right.”

Azevedo, who says that he stays current on all the regulations and laws regarding restaurants because he “has to” to find any success as a diner-owner, said he runs an “immaculate” establishment and that is proven by the Department of Health only making one visit per year.

He also said that after Sears posted that on Facebook, a “lynch mob” has formed to denigrate his diner, and he’s now found a lawyer to work with because people are “lying” about the diner in their online postings, which included reviews on both Facebook and Yelp. The Yelp reviews began when Eddie’s Diner deleted their Facebook page during the ordeal.

In screenshots that the Azevedos took from the past week and half, many individuals, most of whom weren’t in the restaurant at the time of the incident, left negative reviews about Eddie’s Diner. One review posted by someone with the Facebook name “Jenna Marie” said this: “The fact that the owner would kick out an autistic child and his service dog along with his mother out of his s****y establishment is beyond belief.”

Another comment thread on Facebook includes a man named Jay Bombardier Jr. telling people to “go to their [Eddie’s Diner’s] Facebook page and leave a comment” as well as a woman named Pam Tameo commenting that she had “just left review.”

Sears, in addition to his original post, continued interacting with people on Facebook, such as a man named James Scanlon, who commented “surprised you didn’t knock him out when followed you to your truck. Lol.” Sears responded: “Well trust me. The only reason he didn’t catch a beating was because I had my son with me. I had to be the bigger man in this one!!”

The Azevedos deleted their Facebook page to limit the comments, at which point they said the people took to Yelp to leave bad reviews. Eddie said he’s “scared to re-open this week” after they were closed for what was a planned vacation this past week.

Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office, said it all depends on the circumstances in regards to the Azevedos pursuing legal retribution for the comments and reviews that have spread rapidly online.

She said that it could be a type of cyberbullying, depending on the exact nature of the comments, and the matter could be brought to Cranston police if Eddie and Paula felt threatened by the language being put out there online. She said it “depends on a lot of things when it comes to issues of cyber harassment.”

Azevedo said he’s continuing to receive “nasty messages and voicemails” as recently as this week.


33 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Good Evening..Why All Of This Mess..Why..Bulling No Need For It..Cyberbulling is wrong..any type of Bulling is wrong..Even being called snowflakes..y’all know what a snowflake is..Besides being cold &’s a individual..that’s heavy into cocaine..That’s A Another term of nose I don’t stick my nose into anything..I was doing the right thing so I thought..I’m’s not about’s not about the’s not about Mr.’s about a individual that was stuck in the middle..of an argument that could have been avoided..if the owner took a better approach on the situation..See I studied law in school..I don’t need to lie..and if I did..I would do it..depending on the situation..I would even lie for the owners..depending on the’s not about’s not about the’s about Bulling..they say no Bulling in school..but it happens why..everyone is different..everyone has feelings..and when feelings are hurt..crushed..we try to comfort..we try to..dispute the situation..sometImes it works..sometimes we need to School our selves how to dispute the’s not easy..for how are we as parents..suppose to teach our own children about Bulling when it happens in public places such as..diners..or the mall..just a few examples..I was brought up old school..and I was brought up,in a strict Irish -Italian..Christian Home..I’m not perfect no one we work at become better people..better individuals..Everyone has something they don’t like about somebody..but don’t bash them on social’s wrong..and I can say I was wrong..about the time frame I was at Eddies Diner..But that’s not the point..Eddie & His Wife..Don’t Need this..bashing a Diner..All because of a misunderstanding..all because of stupidity that’s all it is..I have a disability I can’t drive at all..I’m 42..go ahead and’s ok..I’m not sad about it..I’m not less bill I don’t have to pay..Anyway..We All Lie..We All Swear..We All Blow it worth it..Does it solve anything it just makes matters worse..I guess if I was to say I wasn’t Eddies Diner..and I did Lie about not seeing anything on the inside..but does that disqualify..what was going on do the math..I don’t know the Sears Family...I Don’t know The owners..Eddie or Paula..All I Can Say Is..all of this mess it’s nonsemse..Now If Paula & Eddie can accept apologies..Easy to forgive hard to forget..We can’t afford lawyers..And To Those That Can..God Bless you..Cause I sure can’t..I’ve been out of work since 2005..I’m a stay at home mom..Trying To Run A Respectful Business From’s been going..Please..all I’m asking is for all the mess to stop..and for Paula & Eddie To forgive Me..for posting stuff..I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t there..when I was..outside..I did get raw scrambled eggs..but not to the point where I ended up in the hospital..and I wasn’t going to sue anyone,,see we all say things we don’t mean..we all do things we don’t mean..we all have things..that we would like to change about I wish I was taller so people can see me more..I wish I was a size 12 rather than a clothes..these are just examples..but I am who I am..that’s all I know how to be..Paula & Eddie..I wish you no harm..I wish the Sears Family no harm..Miss Gigi..God Bless That Fur Baby..Cancer recovery..and A..Autism Service Dog..Can’t Get Better Than That..Mike..dont be afraid to go anywhere..Your a wonderful individual with aliot to give and alot to show this crazy’s not the’s the people that make the world what it is today..let’s all try to be better people..for our next generations to come..we can make this world we live in a better place..a singer once sang..Beat doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right..just beat it,..why can’t people do,just that..turn and walk away,,it’s’s the right thing to do..when it comes to a child..I wouldn’t fight the owners..I would take it with pride..make me the better’s what makes us stronger as people..makes us better parents..But the Bulling needs to many’s broken..I’ve lost many friends..for different situations..No need to need to discriminate..Laws have changed..and law and order will remain the same..Justice for all..mankind..mankind that should have a new meaning tonight..someone once told me I can write a book..I should be a mentor speaker,.who would listen..who would really truly listen..people don’t listen now,,if I can make a difference in someone’s life..try to save them from themselves..try to prevent a suicide from happening..I would..I’m not a sinner I’m not a saint..I just am who I am..And that’s all I know how to be..I wish everyone peace joy and happiness..and be kind to one another..cause once we are gone..we are gone

Paula & Eddie..

Thank You

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

It always feels good to do the right thing

Thank You

Paula & Eddie

Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Friends & I Called Eddies Diner

This Morning..We Apolozied For Everything

They Are Moving Forward..We All Can Do

The Same,.All They Want Is To Serve The

Citizens..Like They Have Been Doing..Please

To All That Were There..Or Not There..Please

Call & Apologize..It’s The Right Thing To Do

We Did..It & So can you

Thank you

Paula & Eddie

Thursday, July 12, 2018

That is great you apologized to diner, How about the reporter you lied too, How about the family you lied too. At the end of the day you created more of a mess you jeopardized the credibility and integrity of the reporter. The diner thinks we put you up to it maybe in the future if you are not involved keep your nose out of things you do not belong in.!!!!!!!!!

Elyse Sears

Thursday, July 12, 2018

As for Eddies Diner you are still in the wrong still no apologies i laugh you say we were never there i went in with a flyer for fundraising and spoke to Paula and she hung on window , also look at your fb photos you will see my whole family eating there

Not to mention because of your actions my poor son is afraid to take Gigi anywhere with him because he is afraid to get kicked out.. not to mention the video video where is this supposed video. and saying dog sitting on a chair you people really need to LEARN the ADA UPDATES. NOT TO MENTION ALL DISABILITIES ARE NOT OBVIOUS TO THE EYE.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

We weren’t there period no food nothing all lies lies lies it’s all it was nothing but Fabricated lies and I did call to apologize to Eddie and Paula..Nothing But pure lies and I’m so so very very sorry we al, make mistakes we are all human lies lies lies from me and I’m sorry so very very sorry really I food nothing no one got sick this was written early in the morning so words were forgotten like didn’t get food wasn’t there etc..we weren’t there and Eddie knows it and Sears knows it we weren’t there at all not even in the parking lot all lies lies lies and what Eddie told me was to say it like it is..and I did and I know he forgives me easy to forgive hard to forget please I’m so very very sorry

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I Apologize To The Family..I Apologize To The Reporter..I Apologize Period..I Did Say Sorry & I Meant It..No Child Has TomScared..And Eddies Diner..No One Put Me Up To Anything..No One..When There’s A Child Invloved In A Situation How Do You Handle It..Not By Fighting..By talking It out.,that’s all..Please Apologize Please..Apologize That’s All

Thursday, July 12, 2018

That was all Fabricated lies lies lies and I took down my Facebook 3

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I Took Down My Post About The Fabricated Lies..I Posted them in the article so people could see what I wrote,,and how sorry I am for what I did..Bulling is wrong even when coming from adults..It’s All Wrong..telling lies is worse bullying and a’s pure Evil..when I spoke to Eddy he was firm he was truthful and even mistakes were made and he admitted that..all he wants is Apologizes and he will forgive..just won’t forget and I’ll be dam sure never ever to try and be something I’m not..we are all human and we all say things we don’t mean..Eddy told me he was wrong..he thought that Gigi was for Mr.Sears..he didn’t know it was for the child..So I Do Apologize To Paula..Eddie..Sears Family & reporters..See there’s the truth the middle the end..I do apologize for the Facebook post and that’s the post I took down.,and if people shared it..take it down please and take down other posts as one likes one likes Bulling no one likes lies

Eddies Diner Family

I’m truly truly sorry

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I don’t have Facebook right now

Eddie & Paula..please forgive us

Meaning my friends & I

Thursday, July 12, 2018

We can not control what other people write on facebook. We never said the dog was on the chairs. We also never said you were never here. Please learn to read. Other people wrote that not us. You knew this lady was never here but still continued with her lies.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

When I Spoke With Eddie & Paula..They were nice..& Firm..when I quote..Firm..Never Ever Will I Do Anything Like This Ever Again..Never Ever..I even went to confession..Paula & Eddie..Yes I’m Truly Sorry & I Mean It..Truly..Easy to forgive hard to forget..Apologize About The Article I Wrote..That’s the article the reporter for Eddie was talking about I did say I lied about it

Truly am sorry

Truly will I never ever

Do it again.,Eddie & Paula

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I hope others come forward to Apologize as well..even if they were there or not..cybercrime it is..and if it’s between Adults or children it’s a crime..Bulling is a crime..Why do it..cause it’s easy..cause it’s’s not..and this is what I truly understand by the meaning of Bully..and’s wrong..and I’m truly sorry

Reporters family

Eddies Family Diner

Sears Family

Truly Am Sorry for my words & action words

Never will I do it again

Thursday, July 12, 2018

When I Was talking to Eddie..He Told Me He Was Being Threatened..I Was Also..I Stated To Eddie..I was also..And I made amends..Being threatened is different from being’s danger..where it shouldn’t’s not good..I need my life just like we all do..please Apologize To Eddie & Paula if you haven’t already..please do so..your lives depend on it..scared I am..yes..very scared..and now I know how it really feels to be scared to’s not fun..I’ve learned my lessons..I’ve made my confessions so if something should happen to me..I can go with a clear conscience..I’m scared crapless and I’ve never been so scared like this before..I feel like there’s a hitman out there and im freaked..should I Be this freaked yes.and so shouldn’t a lot of other people..I’m scared very very scared

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Something tells me I’m done for

My life was threatened Today..

I’m sorry for what I did..if I go tonight

I want All my family friends that know

Me for Me..I love you all dearly..I’m so

So sorry really I am..But I think I’m done

For.,a threat is different from being bullied

God Bless Us Everyone God Bless me the


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Please no more death threats Please stop one needs to die here..No One..please no more

Thursday, July 12, 2018

If I even go to the police I’m all done for who ever they are know what they know and I’m scared yes I am

Thursday, July 12, 2018

thank you paula i know how to read and we said we did not know her so maybe you should learn to read also read the policies for service dogs.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Nice feels like I was talking to myself probably the one that was making threats

Well if the police see this..I don’t know who they are..all I know is that threats

Are more dangerous than being bullied and lied to

A threat is deadly

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Who ever is making the threats..against Eddie & Paula.,& myself..please stop need for it..I Apologized..many many times..Eddie & Paula..Don’t Need This..Please Stop it..We All Want To Live..God Can Only Do So Much..Would it be better if I was to kill myself..that way y’all be happy..I did apologize and I meant it..and it will never ever happen again..Never will it happen again..they want to move forward..please stop with the death threats who ever is doing it..please..there enough going on in this world we live in..just please stop the threats..I’m very very sorry really truly..and I will never ever do it again..never ever

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I was planning on going down to Eddies Diner To Apologize in person..I was threatened that if I show up at Eddies Diner We will be shot at..I’m very scared for Paula & Eddie and the Patrons..we don’t know who’s threatening and why..but it’s getting to be nerve wracking for all of us..I’m staying away from Eddies Diner until things cool down..this is not right..Paula and Eddie didn’t ask for this..I did apologize and I wanted to do it in it’s my life being threatened not just Paula & Eddie..this is wrong

Please who ever is doing this please stop it..please

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Good Morning..Wish It was for me..up all night wondering and worrying about Paula Eddie and myself..I wanted to apologize in person..however my life is now on line..I was told that if I went to Eddies Diner I was going to get shot at..along with Eddie Paula and the caller has an unknown number..I’m calling the district attorney’s office..and I know what I did to Paula & Eddie was Very Wrong..and the reporter I’m truly sorry..and to the Sears Family who. I don’t know at all..I’m truly Sorry..I am..and these death threats are scaring me..I guess that’s a good thing..I needed a wake up call..never to get involved in anything..I’m truly sorry..but these threats..need to stop..and I think by calling the district attorneys office..maybe it will can I track an unknown number

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Cranston Police Called Me

I Will Follow Through..with the Orders

That were appointed to me

Moving forward

With my life

This was a lesson learned

Live & learn

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Question Was Asked Of Me Today

As To Why I Did What I Did

Answer..Bulling & Discrimination

This Is What I Know

Mistakes Were Made..We Are Only


Talking With Mr.Eddie Azevedo & Paula Azevedo

They Were Both Nice..However Very Firm

When Talking With Mr.Eddie Azevedo..He

Admitted To Me..Even He Made A Mistake

When He Thought..That The Service Dog

Was For Mr.John Sears..I Don’t Know

The Sears Family..Only Through The

Story & Facebook..Which I Don’t Have

At This Time..I Caught Up With Mr.John Sears

On Facebook Saying I Was There..& I Wasn’t

Very Very Wrong Of Me To Do That..I Did It

For Right Reasons..Just Went About The

Wrong Way..Told A Fabricated Lie..Never

Do That..It Jeapordizes Life & People In General

As For The Reporter Pam Schiff..I Apologize Deeply

Great Story..Just Wasn’t True

As For Tom Greenberg On Point With

Me..That’s For Sure

As For The Sears Family

I Apologize Deeply..& I Promise

& Swear Under Oath This Will

Never Ever Happen Again

Your Son..Individual He was just

An innocent by stander..Please Accept

My Deepest Apology From The Bottom

To The Top Of My Heart..I’m Truly Sorry

Mr Eddie Azevedo & Paula Azevedo

I Thank You Very Very Much..This All

Could Have Taken Another Turn..Your

Very reasonable & Your Very Truthful

Your Not Bad People..This Was All

Just A Big Misunderstanding

Cause it’s true..Some people Fake Being

Disabled and show up,with service dogs

But come to find out it’s just a pet..Why

Do people’s wrong..and the

Consequences never come the way

They should..cause you have court fees

And jail..Not Good

This is why I’m Thankful To

Mr.Eddie Azevedo & Paula Azevedo

Cause I Could Have Landed In Jail..

Or Worse..Cause They Are Reasonable

Business Onwers..They Only Wanted

Apologies..It’s Easy To Forgive..Very

Hard To Forget..The Azevedo’s Just Want

Peace & To Move On..Please Don’t Bash Them

Bash Me All You Want..Cause I Deserve It

Major Big Time..I Know It Will Be Hard For

Me To Move On With The Bashing & Name

Calling..I So Deserve It

For What It’s Worth..I Hope You All

Can Accept My Apology & I Wish Nothing

But Peace On Both Sides..It Was All A

Simple mistake

To All Those That Never Been

To Eddie & Paula’s Diner

Please Do So You Won’t

Be disappointed

I can say I was there back in January

It was take out only with Friends

I stayed in the Cah..Yes I did

Please Don’t let this get in the way

Of Eddies Diner..Please..It Was

All A Mistake on my end

Never ever will I let it happen again

Under oath I swear

Thank you

Monday, July 16, 2018

Answer To Question

Will I Go To Eddies Diner

As of right now and it’s for

The better I can’t go to

Eddies Diner At this

Time..that’s all I can

Say on that

I’m under orders

Eddie & Paula Azevedo

I’m sure will let me know

When..right now..they

Only want to move forward

And not to be bashed..they

Didn’t deserve any of this

It was all a big misunderstanding

That’s all I can say on that

As For John Sears i Do

Apologize big time for what

I did..I stuck myself where

I shouldn’t have

Mr Eddie Azevedo Said He

Was was all a misunderstanding

On his end..cause like I said

Mr.Eddie Azevedo..thought the service dog was for

Mr John Sears..he didn’t realize

The Service Dog was for the

Autisic child

He hopes that Mr John Sears can

Apologize for his actions..And

Mr Eddie Azevedo Admitted

mistakes were made

We all live and learn from

Those mistakes..I know

I sure did..and as I said

It will never ever happen


Monday, July 16, 2018

Answer To Question

Did Mr Azevedo Discriminate

Mr Eddie Azevedo

Did not discriminate


Like I said Mr Eddie Azevedo

Thought the service Dog

For the Autism Child

Was for Mr John Sears

It Was All A Misunderstanding

Mr Eddie Azevedo Would

Not discriminate anyone

He’s not that way..just

By talking with Mr Eddie Azevedo

I could tell he’s not that way

Mr Eddie Azevedo Received

An Award and Mr Eddie Azevedo

Admitted it was a mistake on his


Mr Eddie Azevedo & Paula Azevedo

Run A Respectful Business They

Would never ever Discriminate

Anyone..That’s not how they


Eddies Diner Doesn’t

Discriminate & They

Are Truthful & Respectful

That’s all I can say

Monday, July 16, 2018

Answer To Question

Civil Trial If There Was

If there Was A Civil Trial

I Would Speak The Truth

As I Did

Mr Eddie Azevedo

Didn’t Discriminate


He’s Not That Way

Just by talking with him

He’s Truthful Respectful

He’s Kind..Yet Tough

Cause he’s a Boss

Would I spend time with

Mr Eddie Azevedo.Yes

Cause I’m a People Person

I see good in all people

In this Cinical World we

Live in I see good in all

People..just have to

Spend time or talk with

The person to see it

Some people can be

Rough around the edges

It’s all on how you treat


Respect..It’s all about Respect

End quote

Monday, July 16, 2018

Where it says Reasonable Business

I misspelled Owners..My Apology

On that

Monday, July 16, 2018

Yes I misspelled


Thank you

Monday, July 16, 2018

the Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth

Quote Me On That

Social media gets everything

Backwards..even lawyers

& judges..

Quote me on that

That’s all I have to say

Monday, July 16, 2018

Thank you very much

I’m sure Eddie & Paula

Will thank you for the

5 star review

All I did was

Speak how I feel This Is

The Real Me

I am who I am

I’m not a sinner or saint

I just am who I am

End quote

Monday, July 16, 2018

In case y’all wondering

It was a restaurant critic

That wanted answers

Didn’t say who

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The reason I

Answered the

Restaurant critic

So the Diner doesn’t

Lose credibility

Tuesday, July 17, 2018