The managers of a bar in New York City say they have “disciplined” a server who allegedly refused service to a customer in a “Make America Great Again” visor — although they also said the customer instigated the incident, as he was "looking for this sort of scenario."
The customer, Dion Cini, had originally shared footage of a bartender at Jake's Dilemma appearing to confirm that Cini was not serving the man because of his hat.
In the footage Cini shared to Facebook, Cini can be heard accusing the bartender of refusing to serve him a beer, saying, “He said he won’t serve me because I got this hat on.” The bartender also appears to try to grab the phone out of the man’s hand.
But Cini already acknowledges that he has a “tab” that needs to be paid, and does indeed sign a bill provided by the staff, indicating he had already made a purchase prior to the start of his video.
WARNING: Video contains graphic language.
He later asks, repeatedly, why he is being removed from the bar.
“You won’t serve me another beer just because I’m wearing my hat, right?” he says.
The bartender responds by smiling and saying, “correct,” but refrains from responding to further questioning.
A bouncer then approaches Cini and attempts to escort him outside, though the man refuses, saying, “Just because I have a red hat on?”
The bouncer responds by asking, “Did I judge you when you came in?”
Ultimately, the staff calls the police to remove Cini from the bar. The video ends after the man appears to leave the bar and give his name to the responding officers.
In a statement to Fox News, Cini claimed the female bartender in the video was the one who had wanted him to leave, and she was the one who instructed the male bartender to kick out Cini, at which point he started recording. He also acknowledged it was their "legal right" to refuse him service, but he also claimed he had ordered dinner and was eating at the time, "so in essence I wasn't denied service… they provided me service and then kick[ed] me out for refusing to take off my hat," he said.
"The bartender ran my credit card without asking me or without having finished my meal," he added. "They continue[d] to ask me to leave and I kept asking him, 'What for?' and as you can hear in the video they said I did nothing wrong… Since I did nothing wrong, which would also include my hat, I refused so I could finish my meal and leave on my own terms"
Cini added that "the rest of the video speaks for itself," and told Fox News he was "most likely" considering taking legal action against the bar.
The bar issued a statement regarding the incident just days after Cini shared the footage to Facebook, where it has accumulated over 100,000 views.
“The ownership and management of Jake’s Dilemma would like to directly address an incident which occurred at the bar this past week and has been making its way around social media,” the bar wrote on Facebook. “We would like everyone to know that we strive to remain completely apolitical and welcome customers with all beliefs and affiliations with the same first-rate level of customer service.
“Jake’s Dilemma is not a place promoting any specific political ideology nor a place where we want anyone to feel unwelcome. Rather, we encourage all to eat, drink, socialize and enjoy themselves at our bar. Our staff and management team include people from all walks of life and beliefs. There is no singular or any defining character of Jake’s Dilemma.
“With all this in mind, we do fully acknowledge that one of our employees took it upon himself to wrongly promote his political views. We can assure everyone that this employee has been disciplined and will be retrained before being allowed to serve at Jake’s Dilemma. We hope to see you at Jake's Dilemma next time you are in the neighborhood.”
In addition to the Facebook statement, the co-owner of Jake's Dilemma told Gothamist that, while the bartender has been suspended before returning to work, Cini instigated the altercation.
"The guy was actually being really obnoxious before the bartender did anything, and was given several warnings," said Jake's Dilemma co-owner Mitch Banchik. "He instigated it and said it was because of his hat...he was looking for this sort of scenario."
The bar’s Yelp page has also been flooded with negative reviews, leading Yelp to place the establishment’s page under an “Unusual Activity Alert” and temporarily disable comments in order to distinguish customers' legitimate reviews from feedback pertaining to the incident, Yahoo reported.
Facebook commenters also weighed in on Cini’s video -- some of which showing their support for Cini.
“Damn dude. Always sucks to be persecuted for how you look or what you believe in. I can’t even imagine,” one wrote.
“That bartender is a piece of s---,“ added another.
Some, however, defended the bar and criticized the customer for the way he was acting.
“Stop provoking people and businesses, you little b----. Your family must be embarrassed to death,” one wrote.
“Give that bartender a raise,” said another critic.
Another accused the man of inciting the incident as a “publicity stunt” for a MAGA “swag” website that Cini manages, according to his Facebook page.
A representative for Jake’s Dilemma was not immediately available to comment.