A Honolulu cafe is getting backlash for a sign that was posted in the window telling Trump supporters to go eat someplace else, The Honolulu Star Advertiser is reporting.
Cafe 8 1/2 is an Italian mom-and-pop place in the heart of Honolulu. The restaurant, prior to last week anyway, got rave reviews for its “Radiatore Verde” and “Italian stir fry,” among other dishes. But that all seems to have come to an end thanks to a hand-scrawled sign saying that the restaurant would rather not have business from anyone who voted for Donald Trump.
— CC (@ChristiChat) December 28, 2016
It’s not clear when Cafe 8 1/2 chef and co-owner Robert Warner put up the sign telling Trump supporters that their business wasn’t welcome, but it wasn’t up for long: last week, following a torrent of negative reviews on Yelp and negative Facebook comments, Warner took down the sign.
The sign was brought to the attention of Fox News last week. Once they reported on the story, the negative reviews started pouring in.
“People should be able to get food without hearing a political message. I will never go back.”
“So, Cafe [8 1/2] hates Trump supporters enough to say they are not welcomed. Well, I wouldn’t patronize a liberal hypocrite establishment anyways. I’m sure you can kiss a [s***] load of business goodbye.”
It’s not clear how many of the negative reviews came from people who had actually patronized the cafe; as the Star Advertiser notes, most of the negative reviews came from outside of Hawaii. Further, some reviewers left some hints that they’d never been in the place to begin with. For example, some reviews mentioned terrible pizza, which is odd considering the cafe doesn’t serve pizza. Others mentioned bad service from several different servers, even though the restaurant only employs two people.
— MyFab5 Hawaii (@bestfoodhawaii) September 26, 2016
Other reviews, regardless of their provenance, were positive, according to The San Diego Union Tribune.
“Will definitely visit next time in Honolulu! Thanks for not being afraid to take a stand. I wish you well and hope your business flourishes. #firstamendment”
“Amazing Mom and Pop cafe with fantastic food. Kudos to the owners for taking a strong stand on their beliefs. Highly recommended”
Now that the social media controversy over the sign has played out, Warner has decided that the time has come to take it down. He insists that it’s not about the negative attention; rather, he says, the matter has simply “run its course.”
“It’s not necessary anymore. It ran its course … no need for more aggravation for me or them and all that. No problem, no big deal to me.”
Warner also notes that the cafe never actually enforced its no-Trump-supporters rule; after all, it’s not like they could station someone at the door asking diners whom they voted for.
And in case you’re wondering whether or not it’s legal for a restaurant to deny service to people on the basis of whom they voted for, the answer is: probably. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on membership in a so-called “protected class.” That means you can’t deny service to someone based on their race or religion, for example.
And even then, the only way you can get into any real trouble is if someone can prove in court that you denied them service on that basis. That’s why it’s perfectly legal for gun stores to declare themselves “Muslim-free zones“; unless and until a Muslim proves in court that he or she was denied service based on the sign, the sign can legally stay, according to The Inquisitr.
Do you believe Honolulu’s Cafe 8 1/2 was wrong to put up a sign telling Trump supporters not to eat there?
[Featured Image by Sorin Colac/Shutterstock]