A war over caffeine has broken out in Melbourne with customers plotting to boycott a “neighbourhood icon” they’ve branded an “embarrassment".
It follows a spat of words between the new owner and a high-profile customer just a day after Pantry Glen Iris reopened its doors in the city’s southeast this week under new management.
“My favourite cafe reopened with new owners so now two tiny coffees cost $12,” Victoria Devine, the financial advisor behind the She’s on the Money podcast, wrote on Instagram.
Customers paying for 'talent'
Despite not mentioning or tagging the cafe in question, owner Julien Moussi fired back with a private message that has since gone viral after Ms Devine shared it with her 43,700 followers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the new owner of Pantry Glen Iris, Julien Moussi,” she wrote on her stories, “nice.”
In a screen shot of the direct message, Mr Moussi starts his reply with the word “predictable.”
“Our pricing is a reflection of our talent, not your budget,” he told the influencer.
“Best you find yourself another local! There is a 7/11 nearby that does $1 coffees.
“Otherwise get a real job that pays properly so you can afford the good things in life.”
In a follow-up story, Ms Devine defended her remarks saying “it’s totally relatable to not love that your coffee goes from being $4 for 8oz to $6 for 6oz".
She further took aim at Mr Moussi, who is also the director of the Only Hospitality Group which owns 22 venues, flagging her “favourite part” of his comment which told her to “get a real job.”
“I can’t stop thinking about this. If you think that I should get a “real job”... Then what on earth do you think about all the staff that work for you at all your cafes?” she questioned.
“This comment says a lot about how much you respect the people you employ. Nice.”
Mr Moussi was quick to respond.
“I love this,” he wrote to Ms Devine.
“The funniest thing is that you genuinely think that people care for your opinion.”
Cafe owner says his comments were misconstrued
According to Mr Moussi, his remarks have been misunderstood.
He claims Ms Devine had been 'trolling' Pantry Glen Iris's Instagram account.
"Regarding the job comment, it was suggesting she stop tasking herself with trolling our account and find something better to do," he told Yahoo News Australia on Friday.
"I understand she’s a very successful influencer which is fantastic.
"I don’t judge or have an opinion on anyone's profession. We treat everyone on merit."
Social media backlash
Pantry Glen Iris’s Instagram account has since been flooded with backlash following the heated exchange.
“Yeah, I care about Victoria’s opinion,” one person wrote.
“Seems the only talent you have is running away customers with your $6 coffees and sh***y attitude,” another said. “Hundreds of thousands of [people] listen to Victoria and you’ve just lost A LOT of customers.”
“Rather than finding a new local, the new local should find a new manager,” someone else added.
Many riled up users threatened to go elsewhere.
“I can’t wait to try my 7/11 coffee before I go and start my non-real job,” one person claimed.
“Will not be visiting,” another wrote, “don’t have a real enough job!”
But for some locals it was a personal hit to their history.
“I grew up going to the Glen Iris milk bar, then Pantry, knowing the owners," one said. "[It] once was a neighbourhood icon, now an embarrassment.”
1500 customers in first two days open
But for Mr Moussi, any press is good press.
"My response to the negative comments is that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am quite enjoying the entertainment.
"It's also good for the algorithm!
"Our customers are very happy and things are going really well. We've had over 1,500 people through in our first two days so we are certainly feeling very supported.
He added that "even Victoria came back in yesterday."
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.