CLEARWATER — As millions turned to Facebook, Twitter and television to express their opinions on the Casey Anthony verdict, the owner of a Clearwater Skyline Chili chose to display his outrage on his restaurant's door.
"Pinellas County jurors NOT welcome!!!" read the hand-lettered sign.
"I was shocked and really disappointed about the verdict," owner John McClure said. "It might have been not a good choice, but it's the only way I knew would get the message out there."
McClure took the sign down Wednesday after Skyline Chili's corporate office asked him to remove it. Corporate officials told McClure that Skyline had received several complaints, including one from a juror in the Casey Anthony trial.
When contacted by the St. Petersburg Times on Thursday, Skyline executive vice president Terry Donovan could not confirm that a juror filed a complaint with the company.
Donovan said corporate leaders had a "good discussion" with McClure and do not plan to penalize him for putting up the sign.
"Everyone's free to have personal opinions, but we're conducting a restaurant business," Donovan said. "That's what we're looking for stores to do — have great tasting food and a great personal experience, void of the realm of politics."
McClure said while the sign was still up, he received positive feedback from nearly all customers.
He also received support from his employees, who watched the nearly two-month-long trial in the restaurant and were "speechless" when they heard the verdict, he said.
If any jurors come around to Skyline Chili, he doesn't plan to keep them out — especially since he doesn't know the jurors' identities, he said.
"It's not that I said they're not allowed. The words were 'not welcome,' " he said. "They can come in if they want to, but my statement expressed my disappointment of the verdict."
The sign gained attention after WFTS-Ch. 10 ran a video piece and posted a photo of the sign on its Facebook page Wednesday. The photo on the page had elicited more than 260 comments by Thursday evening.
Below the photo, LuAnn Clayton Burford commented, "Are we going too far with this, or what?"
Another commenter, Breezy Redden, wrote that she has been a Skyline employee for eight years and used to work at the Clearwater location.
"The fact that this sign is displayed makes me over-joyed," she wrote. "This makes me even more proud of the fact that I have the Skyline Chili logo tattooed on my right bicep."
Katie Park can be reached at (727) 445-4154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.