Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made a surprise visit to the grand opening of the new Delray Beach Market on Saturday, a 150,000-square-foot facility that became the state’s largest food hall.
Located near the Atlantic Avenue dining district, DeSantis dropped in on the grand opening of the new market that features more than two dozen unique culinary choices to help the business owners — some of whom relocated from stagnant New York — as well as continue to celebrate post-COVID reopenings.
And in doing so, the popular conservative governor provided his detractors on the left with a new trigger: The way he ate a piece of pizza.
“Ron Desantis eating a pizza is extremely disturbing,” tweeted Florida Democratic operative Thomas Kennedy, who heckled DeSantis during a COVID-19 press briefing in July 2020 and had to be physically removed from the room.
Ron Desantis eating a pizza is extremely disturbing pic.twitter.com/w3zjQTQT0B
— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) April 24, 2021
But Kennedy’s take itself was widely mocked and criticized.
Warning: Strong language
“Actually it’s f**king awesome,” the Twitter user Comfortably Smug wrote.
Actually it's fucking awesome https://t.co/4QNeoXZGab
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) April 24, 2021
“The pizza is 60 Minutes,” wrote Emily Jashinsky, culture editor at The Federalist, a reference to a recent program featuring DeSantis in which the venerable CBS newsmagazine was accused of selectively editing one of his responses regarding distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
The pizza is 60 Minutes https://t.co/O6qCP3sdJs
— Emily Jashinsky (@emilyjashinsky) April 25, 2021
“Let the man enjoy his pizza instead of being traumatized by it,” Ian Miles Cheong, managing editor of Human Events, added.
Let the man enjoy his pizza instead of being traumatized by it. https://t.co/Os5ICtJhW5
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) April 25, 2021
Others joined in as well to defend DeSantis, including Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean.
Disturbing? Wait til you hear about the governor of New York. https://t.co/8z5QsjtONA
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) April 25, 2021
Jay Caruso, managing editor at the Washington Examiner, took note of DeSantis’ pizza-eating form and compared it to a photo he tweeted of New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio eating pizza with a fork.
He's eating a slice the way it's meant to be eaten, sport. With his hands and with a good fold.
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) April 25, 2021
Only to fools https://t.co/jKFD3kgsIW
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) April 25, 2021
Ever watch John Kasich eat?
— Deirdre Robinson (@DeirdreDrdr) April 25, 2021
they don’t like decent people.
— still nunya (@lazyone2222) April 25, 2021
What’s really disturbing is you. pic.twitter.com/sBhfKqoWv1
— MeadowbrookLooper (@ChrisKleine4) April 25, 2021
Business owners at the Delray Beach Market, however, were pleased to see the governor, as well as the crowds, with one local newscast describing the event as having a “festival” atmosphere.
“He was so cool. You know, it’s really exciting to bring all this business to town, all these job opportunities and really just bringing life back,” Keith Sanz, director of bands at Atlantic Community High School, told WPTV after DeSantis and Palm Beach Mayor Dave Kerner both participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Great morning at the ribbon cutting of Florida’s largest Food Hall — the Delray Beach Market. @market_beach has dozens of vendors and over 150,000 square feet to explore and enjoy. #DelrayBeachMarket pic.twitter.com/7h3SUFY1CL
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 24, 2021
“He ate some pizza. He ate some ice cream,” Craig O’Keefe, managing partner of Click Hospitality, one of the entities behind the new market, told the local station. “We shared a beer in there together, so it was a really wonderful time.”
DeSantis also took time to meet some of the more than 200 employees of the new culinary center.
“[The governor gave] them a sense of pride and understanding that he is going to keep them working was really great, and super big payoff for us to have him here,” said O’Keefe.
A number of businesses including Bona Bona Ice Cream and Surry Co. Smoke House left New York due to extended shutdowns and restrictions imposed on restaurants by Democratic elected officials to begin anew in Delray Beach.
“Their restaurants were shut down. They’ve been depleted. This is an opportunity for them to reestablish their business,” O’Keefe said. “So these were opportunities for people to get back to work and start providing for their family again.”
Local officials estimated that more than 2,000 people showed up for the grand opening of the market, WPTV reported.
“It is overwhelming and we need it to stay overwhelming. We need people to come all the time, not just on the first day,” Delray Beach resident Genie Deponte added.
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