If restaurant doors were effective barriers against social and political controversy, the industry might have dodged some mud this week. Instead, its reputation for tolerance and inclusion was sullied by a few headline-grabbing examples of staff members picking at differences.
Here are a few of those alarming moments.
The political beliefs of an unnamed waiter at Saint Marc Pub-Café in Huntington Beach, Calif., were clearly on display about 10 days ago. Unprompted, he asked a party of four women for proof of legal residency before he would serve them. He apparently thought the four women, whose ethnicity was unknown, were aliens, and set a policy on the spot of refusing to accommodate illegals.
Outraged, the four left the restaurant after sounding off to a manager. Then they grabbed the megaphone of social media, sparking a firestorm.
The restaurant publicly apologized, said it had fired the waiter, and offered to donate 10% of weekend revenues to a local immigrant youth group.
‘Hispanics are lousy tippers’
Ethnic assumptions also drew a public flogging for the staff and proprietor of a sushi joint in Fresno, Calif., called Roll One for Mi. The servers’ contentions might have gone unnoticed if proprietor Steve Wayte hadn’t echoed them in a Facebook post. Playing off President Trump’s campaign promise, Wayte suggested he build a wall around the restaurant to keep Hispanics out, since his staff had concluded that some Latinos don’t tip.
The response on social media was pointed and quick. “Boycott his place !!!,” Danny Mendez posted on Facebook (where, for inexplicable reasons, the restaurant is identified as Roll One for Me). “They don't like Mexicans. racist place.”
Wayte’s remark was seized upon by a local politician running for office. Mayoral candidate Henry Perea suggested the community build an economic wall around Wayte’s restaurant.
The battle is still raging, though many of the Facebook posts have apparently been removed.
‘One gender per bathroom’
A sign posted 10 months ago in an Oklahoma City restaurant has suddenly become a flashpoint in the debate over who should be able to use what bathroom.
The notice inside the Steak & Catfish Barn alerts patrons that “We do not have a transgender bathroom.
“So,” it continues, “don’t be caught in the wrong one.”
It’s signed by Bob, as in Bob Warner, the 82-year-old proprietor of the Barn.
Freedom Oklahoma, an advocacy group for LGBT rights, has stirred the controversy because it says the warning sounds like a threat.
Warner told Fox News that he’s worried about how customers might respond if they found someone of the opposite gender in the facilities with them. But he said he wouldn’t enforce his alert if the transgender person did not appear to be of a different sex by birth.