The staff at a California restaurant told police officers to leave the property because they made them feel “uncomfortable” and that the area is a “safe space.” After the officers left, the owners were quickly made to regret the decision.
The owners of Hilda and Jesse, a restaurant in San Francisco, announced on the company’s Instagram that they had denied service to three local police officers. The staff explained that they felt “uncomfortable” in the presence of armed officers and wanted to ensure that the restaurant remains a “safe space,” so they kicked them out.
The Instagram post read that “three armed and uniformed San Francisco police officers came in to dine at Hilda and Jesse. Shortly after seating them, our staff felt uncomfortable with the presence of their multiple weapons. We then politely asked them to leave. At Hilda and Jessee, the restaurant is a safe space.”
The post went on to say that they “respect” the police department but also that the officers aren’t welcome back unless they are “off duty, out of uniform, and without their weapons.” As such, the SFPD obliged.
“The San Francisco Police Department stands for safety with respect, even when it means respecting wishes that our officers and I find discouraging and personally disappointing,” SFPD Chief William Scott responded.
Immediately following the decision, customers took to social media to criticize the restaurant for banning the officers. Hoping to do damage control, co-owner Rachel Sillcocks backtracked in an interview with KGO-TV, denying that the decision had anything to do with “the fact that they are officers,” even though one of the stipulations is that they do not wear their uniforms in the store.
“It’s not about the fact that we are anti-police,” Sillcocks said. “It is about the fact that we do not allow weapons in our restaurant. We were uncomfortable and so we politely asked them to leave. It has nothing to do with the fact that they are officers and everything to do with the fact that they were carrying guns.”
Of course, the public saw right through Sillcocks’ excuse. The next day, citizens lambasted Sillcocks and co-owner Kristina Compton. Soon, their Yelp rating dropped to one star, which is the lowest possible rating.
Customers flooded the internet with rants about the restaurant’s overpriced food and mandatory 20-percent tipping. They pointed out that the co-owners want to give their employees “equitable wages,” as their mandatory 20-percent tipping policy shows. They just don’t want to pay out of their own pocket.
“I’m all for equitable wages. And that’s what Hilda & Jesse’s should be paying, not forcing on its customers. (I always tip at >20% but forcing it on customers is wrong. Just increase your prices and be honest about it),” an angry customer wrote.
Others called out the owners on their illogical reasoning and hypocrisy. Some even explained the obvious — that “gun-free zones” only exclude law-abiding gun owners and not violent criminals who don’t even follow the law.
“This is a ‘safe’ space. One that you can not come to when your job is to keep people safe. This is a ‘weapon free’ zone. But they don’t realize everything from the fire extinguisher on the wall to the chef’s knife becomes a weapon. This establishment is ‘free of discrimination’, but it refuses to seat/serve certain people. Since weapons make them uncomfortable they need to turn in their knives to law enforcement and only cook with spoons. No weapons allowed! Owners and managers should be ashamed of themselves. Investors need to pull their money and this place needs to be boycotted,” another review read.
Once the co-owners understood that the backlash wasn’t going away, they did what any desperate corporate mind would do — offer a generic apology and cave on their decision.
“We made a mistake and apologize for the unfortunate incident on Friday when we asked members of the San Francisco Police Department to leave our restaurant. We are grateful to all members of the force who work hard to keep us safe, especially during these challenging times. We hope this will be a teachable moment for us as we repair and continue to build bridges with the SFPD. These are stressful times, and we handled this badly,” co-owners Rachel Sillcocks and Kristina Liedags Compton wrote.
Sillcocks and Compton hope that their apology will appease the outraged customers. Unfortunately, the damage is already done.
The owners of the restaurant have proven that they are more concerned with social justice than the safety of their employees and customers. In reality, only police officers and law-abiding citizens will follow their “no weapons” rule.
Those who seek to do harm won’t give a second thought about their “safe space.” The truth of the matter is that when the police are disarmed, the underprivileged and marginalized suffer the most.