DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The controversy surrounding a Dallas-based pizza chain's plan to offer free pizza to anyone who ordered in Spanish has been strong, but even the company has been surprised at the lengths people have gone to express their displeasure.
In a released emailed to CBSDFW Friday, Dallas-based Pizza Patron said the announcement of their June 5 'Pizza Por Favor' campaign resulted in worldwide calls of both support and opposition, but company president Guillermo Estrada said the company was "surprised by the extent of the reaction."
The chain also says they were the victim of hackers following the flurry of news reports about the promotion, and were forced to shut down some website operations until they could resolve the issues.
In the release, Pizza Patron directly mentioned an article posted Tuesday on CBSDFW.com addressing the 'Pizza Por Favor' campaign, pointing to the thousands of comments the story generated.
MORE: Dallas Pizza Chain Giving Free Pizza For Ordering In Spanish
The pizza chain released an official statement in the release, which it called responding to 'campaign ire.'
"This campaign and others that we have planned for this year are focused on celebrating the Hispanic culture. This has been Pizza Patrón's brand focus for over 26 years.
All of our campaigns and promotions are extended to all people, regardless of ethnicity, language, or political persuasion, to join us in enjoying a slice of the Latino lifestyle.
For this 'PIZZA POR FAVOR™' campaign, our customer service staff has been trained to coach customers in how to say a few words of Spanish to receive a delicious large pepperoni pizza for free.
We are not a political company, but respect the opinions of Americans on all sides of today's issues.
We ask that all complaints or comments be directed to the corporate office at 972-613-8000 or our Facebook fan page so the employees at each store can concentrate on providing great food and service to their customers."
MORE: Pizza Patron Facebook Fan Page
Pizza Patron still plans to carry on the June 5 promotion. The company previously confirmed to CBSDFW.com many franchise stores will have extra security during the 3-hour promotion, but have reiterated the need will be for crowd control, and not due to any specific threats of violence.
Pizza Patron is no stranger to controversy. They first made international news in 2007 when they announced they would become the first pizza chain to accept Mexican Pesos at all of their stores.