A restaurant owner in Fresno, Calif., claims he's needed to hire a security guard to stand outside his eatery after he made an comment about Hispanic customers in a post on his personal Facebook page.
Steve Wayte, who owns the sushi eatery Roll One For Mi , took to Facebook on Friday after being informed by his servers that four tables of patrons who appeared to be Hispanic allegedly left the restaurant without tipping.
“My servers are thinking about building a wall around the restaurant. Why don’t many Hispanics tip?” Wayte’s original Facebook message read.
Wayte — who has since deleted the post, as well as his personal and professional Facebook pages — claims that his restaurant was later bombarded with calls by a woman who saw the message. She asked whether the restaurant served Mexicans, and when she was informed that they do, she booked a table for 10 on Monday.
Wayte says he wasn’t sure if the woman was serious about her reservation, but he felt the need to hire security prior to the patron's scheduled Monday meal.
“I brought security in just to make sure we don’t have any issues,” said Wayte, reports The Fresno Bee.
According to Wayte, however, he was originally just trying to make a provocative joke.
“I’m a smart-alec, and I like to be provocative. And apparently I was a little too provocative,” said Wayte, who also told reporters outside his restaurant that he doesn’t even support the idea of a border wall.
Wayte also addressed Fresno mayoral candidate Henry R. Perea, who called for Facebook users to build an “economic wall” around Roll One For Mi by boycotting the restaurant.
“What hurts my feelings so bad, is that [Perea is] trying to economically damage me, and I’ve done nothing to Henry Perea. It was a joke … Henry knows where I’m at. He could’ve called, he could’ve private-messaged me. Instead, he took to social media and tried to impugn me.”
“It’s sad. I’m glad he’s not mayor. Let me just put it that way. Because he’s no different than Donald Trump tweeting,” added Wayte.
Perea isn’t the only Fresno-area resident angry with Wayte right now. Many Facebook users have echoed Perea’s sentiments online:
Wayte says he has also received a call from an angry local who threatened to organize a protest outside his restaurant on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Wayte claims that he’s also received words of support via email, and even through anonymous notes that were shoved under the restaurant’s door.
One of his employees — server Carlos Rucker who is Mexican-American — also told The Fresno Bee that Wayte’s comments didn’t offend him. In fact, he seemed to defend Wayte, saying that Hispanics might not tip due to “a cultural thing.”
Either way, the restaurateur says he’s eager for this whole thing to blow over. “I just want to get this behind me and get on with my life,” he said.