SAN MATEO — A Bay Area restaurant owner who made national headlines with his tweet banning service to anyone wearing a MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat has issued an apology, KRON reports.
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, an award-winning cookbook author and chef-partner at Wursthall restaurant in San Mateo, drew criticism after comparing MAGA hats worn by Trump supporters to “white hoods” and warned, “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.”
He later deleted that tweet.
In a statement on Friday, Lopez-Alt said:
“I want to start by apologizing to my staff and partners at Wursthall. Making a public statement without taking my team’s thoughts into consideration was disrespectful and reckless. My goal at Wursthall was for it to be a restaurant where all employees and staff are treated with respect and trust, and by making that public statement without your consent, I failed at that goal. I will work hard to earn back that trust.
“I am very proud to come from a diverse family. My mother is an immigrant from Japan and my father is from a steel town in Western Pennsylvania. My family spans across the political spectrum. Yet we still manage to have a wonderful time at our biannual family reunion because we have three things in common: family, a love for our country, and most importantly, respect for each other and our communities.
“Yet this is a far cry from the stories we’re hearing around the country these days. Like many people, I’m scared and confused by the anger, hatred, and violence that I’m seeing in our country right now. Scared for my family and friends, for my community, and for the most vulnerable people among us.
“Symbols have power and meaning and can mean different things to different people at different times and in different contexts. After having seen the red hat displayed so prominently in so many moments of anger, hate, and violence, to me — and many others — the hat began to symbolize exactly that: anger, hate, and violence. This was the context my tweet was meant to communicate.
“Unfortunately the way I tried to communicate this ended up only amplifying the anger, and I apologize for that.
“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, no matter what form it comes in. 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. This was not my intent in any way, and I am sorry for my recklessness.
“What’s more, my personal perspective in no way meant that Wursthall was changing its policy, as is being erroneously reported in media.
“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.”
Wursthall is known for its German- and Austrian-inspired menu, which features wursts, pretzels and beers from Germany and Belgium, as well as local craft brews.