In Hawaii, Honolulu restaurant Café 8 ½ is a popular Asian/Italian dining destination, and the restaurant has the phenomenal Yelp reviews to prove its culinary superiority. Featuring menu items such as “Italian stir fry,” Café 8 ½ is trendy, eclectic, and apparently a delicious local favorite.
Hawaii is a state that overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton in the November general election, and the owners of the restaurant reportedly fall into that political category. Identified as Robert Warner (once a stylist for San Francisco’s Vidal Sassoon, as well as a restaurant operator in Seattle) and his wife Jali, the owners of Café 8 ½ have decided to use their place in the community to send a clear message about their feelings for President-elect Donald Trump.
And those who voted for him.
In the aftermath of a divisive and highly-contested election, an election that resulted in Donald Trump winning the Electoral College, despite decidedly losing the popular vote, Hawaii restaurant Café 8 ½ has publicly implemented a new policy. The new house rules, which are displayed on the front door for all prospective customers to see, clearly indicate that Trump voters aren’t welcome at Café 8 ½.
“If you voted for Trump you cannot eat here! No Nazis.”
— York Hunt (@YorkHuntvideos) December 28, 2016
The bright yellow, hand-written sign makes it obvious that Trump voters should take their money elsewhere, as well as that the owners of Hawaii restaurant Café 8 ½ liken them to Nazis.
As Fox News reports, the reaction to the restaurant’s new rules has been (unsurprisingly) deeply divided and volatile. Right along party lines, as one might suspect. Since the news of the policy at Café 8 ½ was picked up by the local media and ultimately went viral, folks have been taking to the Hawaii restaurant’s Facebook page to share their thoughts about the Trump voter ban.
Some 8 ½ Café customers think that the ban is a wonderful idea.
“The next time you’re in Honolulu, eat lunch here, not only are they on the right side of things, the food is delicious and reasonable.”
Others appear deeply offended that the Hawaii restaurant would ban (or even threaten to ban) Trump voters, and retaliated by giving Café 8 ½ one-star reviews on social media.
Not all of the “customer” reviews were appropriate for reprinting in the media, and the varied locations of the social media users who posted them made the likelihood that they all came from actual customers a slim one. Rather, it appears that the Hawaii restaurant is reaping the wrath of Trump supporters for daring to make the owner’s political views a matter of public policy.
Former Hawaii Republican Party chairman Willes Lee, who is of Japanese ancestry, also had a harsh reaction to the decision of restaurant Café 8 ½ to ban Trump voters from the establishment. According to Lee, the new policy is “discriminatory.”
“Remember when Filipinos couldn’t go in certain places, or Japanese wouldn’t be allowed [in] many homes? And, it didn’t matter who they voted for.”
— Nina Perugini???????? (@nina14p) December 28, 2016
— MY POTUS IS TRUMP! (@ejoy2270) December 27, 2016
Deplorables unite! Boycott Honolulu's Cafe 8 1/2 which is sporting a large sign telling Trump voters NOT to eat there! Okay, we can do that????
— DplorableFourpebbles (@Fourpebbles1) December 28, 2016
Honolulu's Cafe 8 1/2 how about we ban lefties from places conservatives own or control.. PS lefties stop using gas. lol
— EL l3urto (@sneakysneakers4) December 27, 2016
The owners of the Hawaii restaurant have been contacted for comment regarding the Trump sign controversy, and Jali Warner spoke out about the senseless drama to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. According to the Café 8 ½ owner, the sign isn’t as big of a deal as people are making it out to be. Nor does the restaurant ask customers who they cast their ballot for or even ask them to leave if they’re an obvious Trump supporter.
According to Jali, the sign at the Hawaii restaurant is her husband’s way of expressing his feelings about Donald Trump and the results of the 2016 election. She says it’s nothing personal, and that all diners at Café 8 ½ have the choice whether to eat at the Hawaii restaurant or go somewhere else.
“Robert just wants to express how much he doesn’t like Trump. If people take it personally or it hurts them, we cannot help. That’s why we say they have [a] choice if they want to come or not come. We don’t force them.”
According to Jali, following the posting of the sign that puts Trump voters in the same deplorable basket at Nazis, just three people have called to complain. She adds that Café 8 ½ wasn’t out to rock the boat or cause trouble with the now-controversial sign.
“We don’t want to create trouble. There is enough trouble in the world.”
While the sign telling Trump voters that they aren’t welcome at Café 8 ½ has seemingly infuriated patrons (and potential patrons) of the Hawaii restaurant, customers of the establishment have noted that the angry anti-Trump sign is kind of par for the course. As the Washington Times reports, the owner of Hawaii restaurant Café 8 ½, Robert Warner, is known of something of an abrasive loose cannon to regular customers.
— Dedlok (@Dedlok) December 16, 2016
In fact, he has been compared to the Seinfeld character the “Soup Nazi” (as opposed to a “real Nazi,” to which he likened Trump voters).
Customer say that wife Jali is friendly, sweet and even “soft-spoken,” but her husband has an established reputation of not keeping his cool. He’s reportedly been known to throw his dishes, give customers a piece of his mind and even to hang “not-so-friendly reminders on butcher paper for his customers to read.”
— Chad Deal (@KauaiChad) August 19, 2015
What do you think? With political affiliation not being a federally protected status, do you think it’s okay for a business to deny service to someone based on who they voted for? Do you think that the sign at Hawaii restaurant Café 8 ½ is simply an example of a business owner exercising his free speech, or does it cross a line?
[Featured Image by Café 8 ½/@lonesomewarthog/Twitter]