Calling it a teachable moment, a newly opened restaurant in violent-crime-ridden San Francisco has apologized for refusing service to three uniformed police officers on Friday because its staff felt uncomfortable around firearms. It’s not clear, however, if the eatery will change its anti-gun policy.
As a result of the controversy, Yelp has reportedly suspended the ability to post reviews about the all-day breakfast establishment apparently because of a wave of negative, one-star “review bombing” apparently unrelated to its cuisine.
Rachel Sillcocks, the co-owners of Hilda and Jesse in the trendy North Beach neighborhood, subsequently told KGO, ABC7 News in San Francisco, that the controversy had nothing to do with police animus.
“It’s not about the fact that we are anti-police. It is about the fact that we do not allow weapons in our restaurant. We were uncomfortable, and we politely asked them to leave. It has nothing to do that they were officers. It has everything to do that they were carrying guns.”
In an Instagram post, the restaurant initially explained the following:
“One Friday, Dec. 3, three armed and uniformed San Francisco officers came 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 Jesse, the restaurant is a safe space. The presence of the officers’ weapons in the restaurant made us feel uncomfortable. We respect the San Francisco Police Department and are grateful for the work they do. We welcome them into the restaurant when they are off duty, out of uniform, and without their weapons.”
View this post on Instagram
In a separate statement, co-owner Sillcocks wrote that “Our restaurant is a safe space — particularly for queer and [black, indigenous, and people of color] individuals…We’re sorry that the decision upset you. We understand your perspective and we hope you’ll consider ours.”
Official response from one of the owners of Hilda and Jesse pic.twitter.com/veshjMekxc
— Stanley Roberts (@StanleyRoberts) December 4, 2021
In a series of Twitter posts, SFPD Chief William Scott said, in part, that the department encourages officers to support local businesses as part of community engagement and that the agency abides by a policy of “respecting wishes that our officers and I find discouraging and personally disappointing.”
“I believe the vast majority of San Franciscans welcome their police officers, who deserve to know that they are appreciated for the difficult job we ask them to do — in their uniforms — to keep our neighborhoods and businesses safe,” he added.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association was less diplomatic.
“Three foot-beat officers looking to eat where they patrol are treated without any tact or class by this establishment. Fortunately, there are plenty of restaurants that don’t discriminate and will welcome our officers working to try and keep all San Franciscans safe,” the group asserted in a statement.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) December 1, 2021
Perhaps as a result of the social media criticism, the owners returned to Instagram on Saturday afternoon to acknowledge that they handled the situation “badly,” although, as alluded to above, it seems undetermined if they are adjusting their policy as it relates to cops carrying their service weapons on the premises. The duo reportedly also had a sit-down with SFPD officers at a precinct station.
“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 it badly,” they said.
View this post on Instagram
“[W]e’ve temporarily disabled the posting of content to [the Hilda and Jesse] page as we work to investigate the content you see here reflects actual consumer experiences rather than the recent events,” a Yelp spokesperson told Fox Business.
Most Twitter users agree that the restaurant botched the situation especially given the ongoing lawlessness in the Bay Area. Here is just a small helping (*warning for language):
Hey Smash&Grabbers … come grab your free lunch at Hilda & Jesse’s over on Union St. (also… free furniture, cash register, cutlerie, plates, cookware and whatever you can take off the wall)
— The DUDE (@_El_Duderino__) December 5, 2021
Owners: you have respected your staff’s wishes resulting in your bankruptcy. Great move.
— QuipItReal (@QuipItReal) December 5, 2021
So what happens if there is a hold up with a gun in the restaurant? Police cannot bring in guns?
— Pynk Floyd (@floyd_pynk) December 5, 2021
Sorry but this is bullshit. I’ve always felt safer when cops eat at a restaurant I’m dining at.
— Ricardus Kim (@Total_Recall_CA) December 5, 2021
Well that’s one less business that police have to respond to calls from, at least.
— Jeff Richman 🎄☃️ (@jcrichman) December 5, 2021
Will NEVER enter that restaurant again. Disgraceful behavior on the part of the owners. Not just “whoever” carrying a gun but people who have been trained to protect. Just wait until you “whoever” comes to rob or destroy your establishment. We should honor our police always…..
— Leslye Peterson (@LeslyePeterson) December 5, 2021
Does she realize that many of her customers carry weapons like pepper spray & stun guns to her restaurant everyday bc they feel unsafe in a city that doesn’t prosecute crime & lacks sufficient police presence? Restaurants should welcome uniformed police officers with open arms!
— Tai Hsia (@TaiHsia) December 5, 2021
Good luck on Tuesday when you report a mob robbery, call 3 Berkeley professors
— doc mcdonald (@DocDocsf1) December 5, 2021
It is extremely unsafe to leave a firearm in a car in San Francisco.
— BrittanyLee (@trashtvnpolitix) December 5, 2021
Do they not support “diversity & inclusion” in the community?
— Steve (@SteveTo33818258) December 5, 2021
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