Aramark cancels partnership with Lost River Pizza Co. after controversial facebook posts emerge

Lost River Pizza

WKU Restaurant Group said Thursday it would be cancelling the agreement announced Tuesday with Lost River Pizza Co. to house a new location at Helm Library.

The decision was announced on Thursday following social media attention surrounding controversial Facebook posts by the restaurant’s owner, Keith Coffman.

Social media users took issue with a photo of Coffman from a Halloween party dressed as musician CeeLo Green and painted with black skin tones.

“[At the time] I was unaware that it was even offensive,” Coffman said. “I have friends of all nationalities, all cultures, I’ve never been accused of being a racist before.”

Coffman said this photo is from roughly 13 to 14 years ago, but resurfaced due notoriety stemming from past responses to a disgruntled customer, where he called her a “Karen” and made t-shirts related to the phrase.

Coffman said that prior to the contract’s formalization, he was in talks with Aramark, WKU’s food provider, who were aware of the controversial posts.

“Aramark was fully aware of all of that, and we discussed it,” Coffman said. “I was told by Aramark leadership that I can’t respond [to negative reviews].”

Bob Skipper, director of media relations with WKU, disputed this claim.

“No one at the university was aware of these issues until after the announcement,” Skipper said.

Coffman said the decision to sever the contract was made by Aramark to “save face.”

“I’m sorry, I would have never dressed in blackface intentionally if I’d known it’d be something that offends people,” Coffman said. “I’m a human, I’m a part of this community, and it’s never been my intention to create negative feedback or energy around anything.”

Digital News Editor Michael J. Collins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mjcollinsnews.