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RESTAURANT RECEIVES FLAK FOR REMOVING POPE BUSTS

The Italian restaurant chain Buca di Beppo has removed plaster busts of Pope John Paul II from its private dining rooms out of respect for the deceased pontiff, sparking complaints from some customers.

The restaurant's corporate parent, Buca Inc., ordered the 90 busts returned to corporate headquarters in Minneapolis after the pope died April 2.

However, some customers said the so-called "pope rooms" feel bare without the centerpiece and the company is thinking about returning the busts to the restaurants.

"It didn't occur to us that people would be upset. . . . This has turned out to be a lightning-rod issue," said company spokesman Bob Kleiber.

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