Restaurant Owner Who Banned ‘MAGA’ Hats Apologizes for ‘Reckless’ Statement

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
February 2, 2019Politicsshare
Restaurant Owner Who Banned ‘MAGA’ Hats Apologizes for ‘Reckless’ Statement
A Make America Great Again, or "MAGA," hat, on Jan. 22, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

A California restaurant owner who compared “Make America Great Again” hats to swastikas and Klu Klux Klan hoods has apologized for his “disrespectful and reckless” statement.

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt said in a Jan. 25 statement that any customers wearing the hats, known as “MAGA” hats, wouldn’t receive service.

“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,” Lopez-Alt wrote in the statement.

He’s one of the owners of the Wursthall Restaurant in San Mateo.

MAGA hats are the consummate gear for President Donald Trump supporters, channeling the ideas behind his outsider campaign into one slogan. While the hats have become popular, people wearing them are often maligned without evidence as being racists.

Lopez-Alt, facing a backlash on Facebook and Yelp, issued an apology on Feb. 1.

“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.

“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.”

Wursthall Restaurant & Bierhaus criticized for refusing service to anyone wearing a red Make America Great Again baseball cap
Customers dine at the Wursthall Restaurant & Bierhaus in San Mateo, Calif., on May 9, 2018. (Michael Mayor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

Lopez-Alt claimed that the red hat has been “displayed so prominently in so many moments of anger, hate, and violence,” without naming any of those moments, and said that the hat symbolizes 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,” he said. He acknowledged that his message, while trying to take aim at “hate,” was itself a hateful message against Trump supporters.

Lopez-Alt said that his initial statement was his “personal perspective” and that Wursthall was never going to change its policy and refuse service to people wearing “MAGA” hats.

A number of people replying to the post on Medium said that the apology wasn’t enough.

“Your apology is insufficient. You fail to acknowledge the violence of the left. AntiFa and others attacked peaceful TRUMP supporters as they went to or left TRUMP rallies. I don’t see how you could have missed the attacks in San Jose or the incidents at Berkley,” said one user.

“It’s funny when in your anger, you become the very thing you think you’re raging against. I hope you learn from your mistake,” said another.

“I am a Trump supporter, because I think most career politicians are corrupt and dishonest. Not because I hate anyone. When I see a Red hat I just see a Trump supporter. But the Party Trump defeated in 2016 is trying to paint anything related to Trump as hateful,” said another.

“How can anyone wearing a MAGA hat trust that their food won’t be tampered with? I worked in a restaurant while in college and I know what goes on back there and if this person has enough hate and anger to put up that tweet then God only knows what kind of anger he is capable of in the kitchen,” added another.

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