Villaggio Colafrancesco, a new gelato shop in Birmingham, Alabama, comes with a conservative Catholic twist: Customers are forbidden from wearing short shorts or spandex leggings, exposing their shoulders or cleavage, and cannot use their phones or laptops inside. Any actions that violate the “norm of Christian behavior” is prohibited.
And don’t you dare take any pictures.
Those aren’t just suggestions. They’re rules written on a sign right before you enter the place and expressed in the promotional flyer sent out by the owner:
While the business operates as a for-profit company, all post-tax profits will go to the Caritas of Birmingham ministry founded by owner Terry Colafrancesco. The workers at Colafrancesco’s businesses belong to the ministry as well. Even that requires a deep dive, though, because the Catholic Church isn’t quite on board with their claims:
In 1988, Colafrancesco hosted one of the six famous visionaries of Medjugorje, who claimed to have daily visions of the Virgin Mary in their hometown in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia starting in 1981…
The Medjugorje visions have never been endorsed or authenticated by the Catholic Church, which has approved other reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary such as the ones in 1858 in Lourdes, France, and in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.
It’s no wonder the ministry has been referred to as a “cult.”
It’s a religious group with wacky ideas that happens to own a gelato place, a coffee shop, and a charcuterie store. If you’re buying anything from them, you’re donating some of that money to a conservative religious ministry.
While all of this is legal, Villaggio Colafrancesco is being mocked online for good reason since the shop actively pushes away potential customers who aren’t dressed in a “modest” way because their shorts go above their knees, or their curvier bodies can’t help but reveal cleavage, or because they just wanted to get some work done on a computer while eating a treat.
Theoretically, though, two people dressed in Satanic garb from head to toe wouldn’t be violating any of the rules. Just sayin’. As soon as more people realize what the rules are, there’s a chance their rejection of these draconian religious rules will outweigh their desire for gelato.