A California chef who made headlines after announcing a ban at his restaurant on customers wearing “Make America Great Again” hats is clarifying his intent.
J. Kenji López-Alt, a chef and partner at Wursthall, a restaurant in San Mateo, Calif., published a piece on Medium Friday explaining why he changed his mind about refusing to serve patrons if they were wearing the polarizing hats.
“The way I tried to communicate this ended up only amplifying the anger, and I apologize for that,” he wrote in the piece, adding that it was “disrespectful and reckless,” to make a public statement without thinking about how it would affect his employees.
“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,” wrote López-Alt.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
The controversy began when, in a now-deleted tweet, López-Alt wrote: “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.” The post received hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It also received a good deal of backlash.
“My personal perspective in no way meant that Wursthall was changing its policy, as is being erroneously reported in media,” López-Alt wrote in his Medium post.
In addition to his job at Wursthall, López-Alt is a partner at Backhaus, also in San Mateo. He is the author of the 2015 book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, as well as the author of the James Beard Award-nominated column “The Food Lab“.
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