Calif. café flips script, charges patrons $5 for wearing mask, 50% off if they throw it in trash bin

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The classic song “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” from the hit TV show “Cheers” speaks of a place where people can retreat to where everybody knows their name and is glad they came.

For the many anti-maskers across the country, that place is the Fiddleheads Café in Mendocino, California.

Fiddleheads owner Chris Castleman is an avid anti-masker himself, so much so that he’s now charging customers $5 if they wear a mask inside his establishment and $5 if they are “caught bragging” about getting the coronavirus vaccine.

“I’ve been told this whole time that wearing a mask is a small price to pay,” he cheekily said last week to the San Francisco Chronicle.

But he isn’t keeping the money for himself. He’s donating it to local charities for domestic abuse victims, which is why it stuns him when mask zealots complain.

“Some people get shocked by the sign, but to see them turn around and get disgusted … when they’re asked to pay $5 [for charity], it’s not in their wheelhouse. It’s not something they’re choosing to do,” he said.

Castleman is no stranger to the corona resistance.

During the coronavirus lockdowns late last spring, he kept his business open.

“Castleman, who kept his cafe open during shelter-in-place for curbside service, has made no secret of his disdain for requirements that people wear facial coverings, posting a sign in the window of his Lansing Street eatery early on that stated, “Our freedom doesn’t end where your fear begins,” the North Bay Business Journal reported in June.

Once summer arrived, he reportedly shut down his business rather than abide by local mask mandates.

“A Mendocino restaurateur faced with a second $10,000 citation for violating the county’s health order closed up shop over the weekend rather than require his workers to wear facial coverings or otherwise comply with his county’s health order,” according to the Journal.

Months later after the lockdowns had ended and the vaccine had begun to be distributed, he popped back up in the news when he posted a “Get your free COVID-19 vaccine card here!” sign on his window as a joke.

The problem was that so many people took the sign seriously — and showed up asking for bootleg vaccination cards — that he had to pull the sign.

He also reportedly previously had a sign up offering a 50 percent discount to anyone who threw their mask in his trash bin.

Look:

@poppyseedlingThe disappointment in her voice…😷 #science101 #covid19 #soillegal #wearyourmask #antimask #antivax #takeout #learnontiktok #california♬ original sound – California Poppy Seedling

Local district supervisor Ted Williams wasn’t pleased, though there was nothing he could do about it.

“As far as I can tell, there’s nothing illegal about him giving a discount to people who throw masks away,” he lamented to the Chronicle at the time.

“My only comment is, imagine the good that you could do with all this energy he has. I’ve equated it to giving discounts to people who don’t wash their hands when they use the restroom,” he added.

It’s not clear that analogy really makes sense, unless Williams was talking about people who have fecal matter on their faces … ?

Regardless, the sign was eventually removed, likely because it led to Castleman having to give out too many discounts.

As for the current sign, because a mask mandate is still active in his community, he reportedly doesn’t plan to remove it anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the Yelp page for his business is currently being “monitored” because of all the negative reviews being left by mask zealots,  not that Castleman has any intention of backing down. If anything, it appears he’s hoping to profit from the attention.

His business’s official website, CafeFiddleheads.com, contains two t-shirts for sale with the slogans “Is that a FACE MASK you’re wearing or is it a MUZZLE?” and “It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government. – Thomas Paine.”

The site also contains the following free signs for other business owners to print out and use:

While Castleman’s resistance has certainly provoked some anger, it’s relatively light compared to the rage that’s been directed at Gigi Gaskins, a Nashville business owner who made the mistake last week of trying to express her opposition to vaccines the wrong way.

As previously reported, she designed “Not Vaccinated” patches shaped like the Star of David. The move spawned intense, widespread rage and — oftentimes — hatred.

The Star of David is an ancient Jewish symbol that was exploited by the German Nazis during the Holocaust. By forcing Jews to wear the symbol, the Nazis were easily able to identify them. Because of its history and deep meaning, many people, some of them conservative, took offense to the shop appropriating it.

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Vivek Saxena

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