Apparent Dispute Between La Jolla Resident, Pizza Restaurant Leads to $10 Million Lawsuit

May 16, 2022

An apparent dispute between a local pizza restaurant and a La Jolla resident has evolved into an ongoing feud that now involves a $10 million lawsuit.

Ajay Thakore, a local businessperson and owner of Gopher Media LLC (also known as Doctor Multimedia), recently lodged a complaint against American Pizza Manufacturing and its owner, Andrew Melone, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Ajay Takore Sues American Pizza Manufacturing
La Jolla businessperson and resident, Ajay Thakore. Image courtesy of PR Newswire

The lawsuit, which Thakore recently announced in a press release, accuses Melone of harassment and racial discrimination, among other complaints. For example, the suit also claims that American Pizza Manufacturing carried out false advertising and that Melone defamed Doctor Multimedia.

Melone, for his part, has countersued Thakore and accused the local La Jolla resident of a “relentless and ongoing campaign of harassment,” as well as libeling and “unfairly interfering with” his business.

American Pizza Manufacturing is a restaurant located at 7402 La Jolla Blvd. You won’t find a top-of-the-line, brick dome, wood-fired pizza oven at this business, however. Instead, the business assembles pizzas for customers to take home and bake.

In 2021, the restaurant made local headlines for being the apparent target of a harassment campaign.

The dispute started when automated “bots” began writing disparaging comments about American Pizza Manufacturing and Melone.

Those comments eventually manifested physically in the form of a car with “Take ‘n’ bake pizza sucks” that was frequently parked in front of the pizzeria. At one point, there was even a plane flying a banner with the phrase “Just say no to take ‘n’ bake pizza” overhead.

At the time, some residents claimed that Ace Rogers, another name for Thakore, was behind the campaign. Rogers denied it at the time, but in his lawsuit filed in January, he admitted to carrying out a “peaceful and orderly protest.”

In Thakore’s press release in May, he announced that he recently made a motion to amend a complaint to include new claims concerning an event that reportedly took place on Feb. 9, 2022.

According to Thakore, Melone called the police on him because he parked a vehicle outside of the restaurant for more than 15 minutes. Thakore claims he had just arrived and alleges that the police “targeted” him at Melone’s behest.

As a result of the alleged incident, Thakore has apparently filed a complaint with the San Diego Police Department and the city and called for an internal affairs investigation. Recently, the city dismissed the ticket.

Andrew Malone Owner of American Pizza Manufacturing
Andrew Melone, owner of American Pizza Manufacturing. Image courtesy of La Jolla Light

Melone’s countersuit claims that, starting in October 2020, Thakore began to verbally harass employees, customers, and others at American Pizza Manufacturing. It also states that Thakore made a slew of false allegations, including claims of animal abuse and racial discrimination.

At one point, Thakore said that the business “refused service to me, and one of his customers kicked my three-legged handicapped dog,” according to the La Jolla Light. Thakore has also accused Melone of fabricating “false” stories in the Light.

Melone denies those allegations and said that “it’s disheartening to have to defend against an antagonistic assault on our integrity.”

“We hope that as the true nature of the events in question are revealed, it will put an end to such behavior targeted at APM and other small businesses like ours,” he said.

The banner photo for this article is courtesy of @americanpizzamfg