The restaurant where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were heckled by protesters last Friday evening in Louisville issued a statement saying it regrets that the incident occurred and that its staff was caught off guard.
“We strongly believe everyone should feel welcome and safe in our restaurants,” the management of Havana Rumba, a Cuban restaurant with three locations in the Louisville area, wrote on Facebook. “It was Friday night in the middle of the rush and our staff was caught off guard as the incident developed quickly. Once we were aware of the situation we acted quickly and efficiently to assure that everyone was safe.”
In a video posted on TMZ, McConnell, R- Ky., and Chao appeared to be finishing up their meal on Friday when they were approached by four men. One of the men began shouting at the Kentucky lawmaker, saying “get out of here” and “Why don’t you leave the entire country?”
The man also allegedly grabbed McConnell’s box of leftovers and threw it outside.
In the video, other dinners appear to be irritated at the disruption – pointing at the unnamed protester and encouraging him to leave the restaurant. McConnell was seen afterwards thanking some of his constituents and shaking hands before he left.
Friday’s incident marks the latest dining disaster for the Senate’s top Republican, who in July was hounded outside of Louisville’s Bristol Bar & Grille by a group of protesters and then, on the following day, was forced to leave an Italian restaurant mid-meal when another group of protesters with a megaphone confronted him with chants of “no justice, no peace” and played Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
McConnell is not the only political figure to recently face protests and disruptions while dining out.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had to cut short a working dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington in June after protesters shouted, "Shame!" until she left. The day before protesters gathered outside Nielsen’s Virginia townhouse, chanting “no justice, no sleep” and playing recordings of immigrant children crying.
In July, a diner at a Washington D.C. restaurant accosted then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt, demanding that he resign from his post. Pruitt resigned from his job several days later amid a slew of scandals.
The National Restaurant Association on Monday issued a statement to Fox News in which it condemned the heckling of political figures and urged Americans to show each other mutual respect while eating out.
“Sharing a meal with someone with a different background or viewpoint enhances our understanding and appreciation of the great diversity of our country and promotes mutual respect,” Mollie O’Dell, a spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association, told Fox News. “We welcome all guests, regardless of their background or political beliefs.”