A California restaurant owner sparked controversy in a now-deleted tweet in which he declared that anyone wearing a "Make America Great Again" (MAGA) hat would not be served.
The owner of Wursthall Restaurant & Bierhaus in San Mateo, J. Kenji López-Alt wrote on January 25: "
In a separate now-deleted tweet to his 42,000 Twitter followers, López-Alt wrote "MAGA hats are like white hoods except stupider because you can see exactly who is wearing them."
The award winning cookbook author's tweets sparked an immediate controversy, with those on the left supporting the restaurateur, and free speech advocates condemning him.
"I see where he’s coming from, but I don’t think you should just keep people out because of a hat," said San Mateo resident Jamie Hwang while sitting at a table inside Wursthall. "I get that idea, that maybe that hat could mean the person wearing it is just looking for a fight, but just cutting off dialogue, not giving a chance to get to know someone — I just don’t know if that’s something I would do."
Not the first time...
Last May the Cheesecake Factory apologized after a 22-year-old Trump supporter Eugenior Joseph was harassed by employees, with some threatening to "knock his head in so hard his hat's going to come off."
According to multiple witnesses and Joseph's own account, a woman who worked at the restaurant walked up to him and started pointing at his hat, signaling for the other employees to come over.
"Her finger was literally on top of his head, we were all looking at her like 'what is happening?'" one witness told The Daily Wire. "She was pointing at him, calling her other coworkers, telling them to look at this guy wearing a Make America Great Again hat." -Daily Wire
And in June of last year, the manager of a Canadian restaurant was fired after he ejected a man wearing a MAGA hat - leading to Trump-hating Canadians swarming their Yelp page with negative reviews.
"As a person with a strong moral backbone, I had to take a stand against this guest's choice of headwear while in my former place of work. Absolutely no regrets," the former employee told CBC News.
Kenji backpedals, kind of
In a carefully crafted Friday PR statement, Kenji suggests that he wasn't attacking individuals - but the "hate" that a MAGA hat represents.
"My message was intended to reject anger, hate and violence, and indicate that these shouldn’t be welcomed in our society and aren’t welcome in our community. It was meant to be directed at those who would try to bring messages of hate, violence, and anger into my place of business," wrote López-Alt, adding "It was aimed at these three elements rather than at a physical object, but I understand that many interpreted my words in a different context, and construed a message of hate directed at them."
In short, "If you come into my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren't getting served" wasn't directed at people (it was), rather it was aimed at MAGA hats themselves - and he's sorry for any confusion caused by his clear language.
"Wursthall will continue, as it always has, to serve all customer regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual preference, gender orientation, disability, or political opinion — so long as they leave hate, anger, and violence outside of the doors of our restaurant."
In short, you still can't wear a MAGA hat inside of his eatery.