The constant effort of trying to enforce masks—and the abuse that some employees have had to endure—was just too much.

By Jelisa Castrodale
July 01, 2020
Advertisement

On Sunday, the management of Hugo's Tacos announced that both of its Los Angeles-area locations would be temporarily closing their doors again. "Our taco stands are exhausted by the constant conflicts over guests refusing to wear masks," Hugo's said in a statement. "Staff have been harassed, called names, and had objects thrown at them. A mask isn't symbolic of anything other than our desire to keep our staff healthy." 

California currently has a statewide mandate requiring face coverings in public, including at restaurants. (Yes, the masks are allowed to come off when customers are actually eating their meals.) But the constant effort of trying to enforce that—and the abuse that Hugo's employees have had to endure—just got to be too much. 

Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images

“When you ask some of the customers, they get upset, they get mad. They don’t like to do that,” Executive Chef Nabor Diaz told KTLA. “At this point, it’s really important for us to put the safety of our crew first.”

Unfortunately, Hugo's isn't the only restaurant that has opted to close again, rather than allow mask-denying customers to jeopardize the health and safety of their waitstaff. Mexican Fiesta in Dearborn, Michigan, has shuttered its dining room and is going back to serving carry-out only. 

"A very small minority of people just became really aggressive with foul language and pushing," Mexican Fiesta manager Sam Alvarado told the Detroit Free Press. "Most of our customers have been amazing." (Alvarado had to call the police over the weekend when a third-party delivery driver refused to wear a mask and "got physical" when he wasn't allowed to enter the restaurant.) 

Goodonya, a self-described "organic eatery: in Encinitas, California, has also temporarily closed due to the "combative threats" that its workers have had to endure from customers who were asked to wear masks. When it reopens on Friday, it will be carry-out only. 

On the other side of the debate about, well, communicable diseases and basic human courtesy, there's Basilico’s Pasta e Vino. The Huntington Beach restaurant has banned masks entirely. "[If] you enter the restaurant for dine-in, and want to wear a mask, you must remove it when sitting down," a manager wrote on social media. "If you are standing around inside and waiting for a table, or waiting inside to pick up food for yourself or as a third-party delivery driver, and you are wearing a mask, you will be asked to wait outside.” 

It has to be ridiculously frustrating for restaurant owners to have to decide to close, especially since most of them have just been given the greenlight to re-open their indoor dining areas again. But the patrons who don't want to wear masks really don't want to do it, and it can be uncomfortable for restaurant workers to try to enforce those policies. It can also be dangerous: An argument over the North Carolina governor's mask requirements led to a shooting outside a Chili's restaurant in the town of Forest City last weekend. 

Please wear a mask if the host or a member of the waitstaff asks you to. If that's not your thing, then maybe just get your meal to go, yeah?