A possible change to the dress code policy at one California restaurant has drawn controversy after the chef-partner tweeted that people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats would not be served.
The new ban was tweeted out by Wursthall Restaurant and Bierhaus’ chef-partner J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. The restaurant is located in San Mateo, California.
“It hasn’t happened yet, but if you come to my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren’t getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or any other symbol of intolerance or hate,” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
It reportedly received more than 2,100 likes and more than 200 retweets by Wednesday afternoon but was deleted Thursday.
The red hats have become a symbol for Donald Trump, who began wearing them during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign and continues to do so at his various rallies, campaign events and, most recently, a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, albeit with a different colour. The caps are also worn by his supporters and are sold on his campaign website for US$25.
They have, however, become associated with controversy.
In July 2018, for example, a Vancouver-area restaurant became the centre of attention when a manager was fired, after he refused to serve a pro-Trump customer who was wearing one of the infamous red caps.
Lopez-Alt said in a separate tweet, also deleted, that the hats are “like white hoods except stupider because you can see exactly who is wearing them.”
Since the initial tweet about the potential policy change, Lopez-Alt has declined to comment, according to the Associated Press.
He told the Chronicle he has since faced negative and threatening emails since the social media post.
WATCH: Trump signs red ‘MAGA’ caps during Germany stopover with U.S. service members
Michael Chang, a customer who visited the restaurant following the tweet, said he has mixed feelings about the idea.
“It’s such a nuanced issue right now in terms of wearing the hat and what it means,” he told CBS-affiliate KPIX. “The hat itself is loaded, but by itself… it means we have to have a longer conversation.”
Jamie Hwang said she’s not sure how much support the change could garner.
Hwang, who was dining at the restaurant Wednesday, said there’s an issue with outright banning the hat.
“I don’t think you should just keep people out because of a hat,” she told the newspaper. “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.”
Kelly Bradwell, who spoke with KPIX, said while they recognize it’s his business, they wouldn’t be dining at the restaurant because of the ban.
“You can’t judge people by what they wear,” she said. “I know it’s his private business, but it’s really discriminatory.”
The policy by Lopez-Alt isn’t the first time a restaurant has tied personal politics to business.
In 2018, the Red Hen in Lexington, Va. made headlines when management asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave because she worked for the Trump administration. And in 2017, several restaurants and bars in various California cities registered as “sanctuary businesses,” billing themselves as providing safe, tolerant spaces for everyone, whether it be an employee or customer.
It’s not known at this time if the policy has been put in place.
— With files from The Associated Press