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Juan Riesco grew Nini’s Deli from its humble origins to #1 in Chicago on Yelp before the Black Lives Matter movement cancelled it in early June 2020. His parents, immigrants from Cuba and Mexico, started the small business. Juan took the reigns during a transitional period in his life, in which he converted to Christianity, after living as a homosexual in San Francisco.
After the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement promoted posting a black square on social media to show solidarity with the cause. When Juan failed to take this step, hundreds of people went online to accuse him of racism. Juan gently responded to each individual by explaining that he was a Christian and could not endorse the anti-Christian beliefs of the Black Lives Matter organization, but that he did believe black people, as well as all people, mattered to God. The next day hundreds of protestors showed up to protest Nini’s Deli. Juan preached the gospel to them. The next day thousands of people showed up. Juan received thousands of death threats and had to flee the city in the middle of the night to escape. Juan lost his corporate contracts and Nini’s Deli closed.
Even as he lost his business and experienced betrayal by friends, Juan’s faith in Christ and resolve grew. Juan considers the story of Nini’s to be a victory story as many have come to Christ and been inspired by his courage.
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