New Columbia restaurant distances itself from co-owner after offensive Facebook posts

A new Cottontown pizza restaurant has placed a co-owner on an “indefinite leave of absence” after he shared Facebook posts many deem sexist and bigoted.

Rick Marzan, a Columbia native and actor-turned-restaurateur, caused an internet firestorm last month when he shared politically themed posts many found offensive.

Many people responded on social media by saying they would boycott his new restaurant, Citta del Cotone, which opened in November.

A statement released to The State by partner Tommy Price said the restaurant is distancing itself from Marzan.

“The employees and management at Citta del Cotone have always wanted an environment that is warm and inviting while serving great food,” it said. “Recently, we were made aware of offensive and hurtful posts on one of the employee’s personal Facebook page. The posts do not reflect the views of the restaurant. For that reason, we have decided to immediately place this employee on an indefinite leave of absence from our Citta del Cotone. We are truly sorry this has happened. We love and support this community and will always be gracious and welcoming to all.”

Marzan declined comment.

Some of Marzan’s Facebook shares bashed Barack Obama. Others were seen as homophobic. Some addressed the Christine Blasey Ford-Brett Kavanaugh controversy by belittling women who report sexual abuse. Ford, in front of Congress and news cameras, accused the now-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault, which he denies.

One shared post showed an older woman comforting a younger one. “I’m so sorry that bad man touched you inappropriately,” it read. “Let’s wait 30 or 40 years (to report it) until he runs for office against a Democrat.”

Marzan was in charge of the kitchen at the Neapolitan, brick-oven restaurant. Price, who originally founded Za’s pizza restaurant, ran the front of the house, among other duties.

Marzan played baseball and football at the University of Kentucky, then studied acting in New York. He moved to Hollywood, where, with his baseball skills, he landed the role of Jose in the 1988 hit “Bull Durham” with Kevin Costner. Marzan went on to play a recurring role as Camacho in seven episodes of “ER” in 1994 and 1995. He’s also appeared in films with the likes of Robert De Niro and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Marzan formerly owned Noah’s Antica Pizzeria in Irmo.

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