It started with a tweet on Sunday: “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.”
“MAGA hats are like white hoods except stupider because you can see exactly who is wearing them,” read a follow-up tweet.
Lopéz-Alt, who has over 43,000 followers on the social media platform Twitter, opened San Mateo restaurant Wursthall with his partners last year in a flurry of excitement, much of which was the result of his prolific online presence and reputation as a guru of food science. (He is the author of The Food Lab: Better Homecooking Through Science, a textbook-like cookbook with roots in scientific reasoning.)
On Wednesday, the SF Chronicle published an article weighing the reactions of diners and internet commenters to the tweet. TL;DR: They’ve been mixed. Lopéz-Alt declined to comment for that article (and this one), citing concerns for the safety of his staff after threats were made. Per usual, the restaurant’s Yelp page is being monitored for “unusual activity” as critics of Lopéz-Alt’s tweet have descended on it to air their grievances.
Now, the chef and author has issued an apology.
“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,” he wrote in a post on Medium. (Read the full post here.)
This isn’t the first incident in which a restaurateur has made waves by drawing a line in the sand over political affiliation. The Red Hen restaurant in Virginia came under fire after refusing service to Press Secretary Sarah Huckbee Sanders, while other bars and restaurants have similarly refused service to those in MAGA hats. As far as the law goes, restaurants have the right to refuse service to anyone they choose that is not in a protected class under the law (this includes sex, race, age, disability, color, creed, national origin, religion, or genetic information). Political affiliation does not apply.
Lopéz-Alt, who often uses Twitter to publicize his personal beliefs on a variety of topics, ended his apology with the following: “Wursthall will continue, as it always has, to serve all customer[s] 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.”