The Indiana pizzeria that supported RFRA, refused to close gay marriages

A northern Indiana pizzeria that garnered national attention during the height of Indiana’s religious freedom law debate is no longer in business.

The South Bend Tribune reports that a sign placed on the storefront of Memories Pizza in Walkerton tells customers the store was closed last month. Area business owners contacted by IndyStar on Monday confirmed news of the closure.

Calls made to Memories Pizza went straight to a busy signal. Calls made to a number listed for Memories Pizza owners Crystal and Kevin O’Connor went unanswered.

The restaurant in the town of Walkerton, which has a population of 2,200, about 20 miles southwest of South Bend, went from being largely unknown to being on people’s lips nationwide in April 2015, as it became one of the first companies to publicly say it would refuse service. same-sex marriage, a scenario feared by opponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In an interview with a South Bend television station, the owners of Memories Pizza said they would refuse to hold a wedding for a gay or lesbian couple for religious reasons, but they said they would not refuse the service because of sexual orientation.

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The backlash from the maintenance forced the business to temporarily shut down and the police stepped up patrols around the store.

At one point, police asked the St. Joseph County District Attorney to review the case of a local woman who commented on Twitter, “Who’s going to Walkerton with me to burn down Memories Pizza.”

But the shop attracted a number of supporters. Employees of the conservative TV network and The Blaze website have set up a GoFundMe account for the restaurant, saying it hopes to raise money to recoup lost profits suffered by the owners. The page went on to raise over $842,000.

During the temporary shutdown, Crystal O’Connor told TheBlaze that her family was considering moving out of Indiana.

“I don’t know if we’ll reopen or if we can,” O’Connor told the outlet.

But the store eventually reopened to a supportive crowd and remained in business until last month.

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Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at (317) 444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.

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