SAN MATEO (KPIX) — A well-known San Mateo restaurant owner has waded into the rough waters of national politics after posting on social media that customers wearing MAGA hats were banned from his establishment.
On Sunday, chef and partner at Wursthall Restaurant and Bierhaus J. Kenji Lopez-Alt sent out a tweet declaring that he would not serve anyone who comes into his place wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap.
UPDATE (2/1/19): San Mateo Restaurant Owner Apologizes For ‘MAGA’ Hat Ban
“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 and hate,” said Mr. Lopez-Alt in the tweet.
The tweet was taken down but not before it got 2,100 likes and 200 retweets.
Log Cabin Republican member Juan Hernandez said Lopez-Alt’s words reminded him of when he was attacked by protesters outside a Trump rally in 2016.
“I was wearing a MAGA hat when I was attacked at the San Jose Trump rally and there’s blood on the hat because of the people who attacked me,” said Hernandez. “It’s a shame that he (Lopez-Alt) did it because we’re trying to be inclusive with everybody and have open communication, and that just shuts it down right there.”
He said Lopez-Alt is far from accurate when comparing the MAGA hat to the Ku Klux Klan.
But some customers told KPIX they agree with the policy.
“I think it’s a really bold move. With the way everything is right now, I think it’s a good thing,” said Jae Miller who works nearby. “It sets a way for other people to come out and say how they feel. Everyone’s entitled to their first amendment rights so why not.” But Pamela Fisher said she would never patronize the restaurant because of it.
“We should be able to wear whatever we want,” argued Fisher.
Kelly Bradwell agreed.
“You can’t judge people by what they wear. I know it’s his private business, but it’s really discriminatory,” said Bradwell.
Michael Chang ate at the restaurant for the first time Thursday and said the food was “awesome.”
Chang said the hat alone–which sells for $25. on a Trump Campaign website — doesn’t bother him.
“The hat itself is loaded. But by itself it doesn’t mean…it just means we have to have a longer conversation,” said Chang.
President Trump began wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap during the 2016 campaign, and now makes it a regular part of wardrobe, especially on trips outside of Washington, like his recent visit to the U.S. Mexico border.
Evelyn Corzberg and Candee Klein stopped by the restaurant Thursday night to see if any patrons were wearing MAGA hats.
“You should be able to wear anything you want,” said Klein.
Corzberg, however, disagreed with her friend.
“That hat splits us,” she said. “It just represents breaking up our country.”
Chef Lopez-Alt was not at the restaurant Thursday, and none of the workers on duty wanted to comment on the story.
The restaurant’s Facebook and Yelp pages were bombarded with negative comments, which caused the social media sites to shut down its comments section.
Trump supporters took to social media to say they would go to the restaurant to protest the tweet, but as of Thursday evening, none had shown up.