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Threatening Letter Prompts Temporary Closure Of Controversial Restaurant

PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) - A takeout restaurant in Pittsburgh's Oakland section that serves food from countries at odds with the United States has temporarily closed following a threatening letter.

Pittsburgh police are investigating the threat against Conflict Kitchen, a kiosk in Schenley Plaza, but declined to release details.

But the restaurant posted this message to their Facebook page: "We have received a letter today containing death threats and we will be closed until the credibility of the letter can be established by the Pittsburgh police. We hope to reopen shortly."

Public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said Saturday that the letter was sent to police, but she wasn't sure when it was received.

Conflict Kitchen said it would be closed until police could assess the credibility of the letter. It added: "We hope to reopen shortly."

The takeout café, which was designed and run by artists hoping to start conversations with customers about countries in conflict with the United States, has served food from Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

It recently started serving Palestinian food and drew criticism from some, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, which said that Palestine wasn't in conflict with the United States and that the restaurant only presented Palestinian viewpoints on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Conflict Kitchen criticized what it called "biased media and powerful political and lobbying groups" and said its mission is promoting understanding.

"We have demonstrated this in the past by presenting the food, culture, and viewpoints of Iranians, Afghans, Cubans, North Koreans, and Venezuelans," the eatery said in a blog post. "We believe that presenting the viewpoints of Palestinians promotes understanding of Palestinians."

Supporters of the restaurant stopped by the eatery Saturday to drop off notes of encouragement.

One note read, "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to ... me not getting delicious food."

Another said, "We support you and everything you stand for."

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