A popular restaurant in Sonoma, California, is closed until further notice after it received threats for prohibiting an employee from wearing a Black Lives Matter mask.
The Girl And The Fig closed its doors without providing a timeline for when it might reopen to the general public, according to ABC 7 News. A former server named Kimi Stout recently announced that she left the company last September after she was told she couldn’t wear her Black Lives Matter face mask.
“I would have absolutely abided by the mask rules if they had a sign up that said Black Lives Matter,” Stout said.
Restaurant co-owner John Toulze told the Sonoma Index-Tribune that the incident has had “devastating” effects on the business and staff have been threatened with violence.
The owners of the French-inspired restaurant took to Facebook on Wednesday to offer their interpretation of the events that led to the woman’s departure from the company.
“This entire incident has exploded over an employee that did not want to follow the rules,” a post from the restaurant read. “We did not fire her, we did not force her out, she made her decision to quit. Because she did not want to follow the rules.”
We have been quiet for too long. This entire incident has exploded over an employee that did not want to follow the…
Representatives of the restaurant also posted that they regretted losing “a very good server” and that they “believe that racism and discrimination have no place in our society. But we also believe that all of us advocating for racial justice must consider the very words and truths shared by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’”
Throughout the week, many local residents have sided with owners of the restaurant.
“Most places, at a winery, at a restaurant, at a hotel, at the airport, you have a uniform. You have certain things that you have to wear to be part of that organization,” Katharina Baskin of Sonoma said.
Another man wrote on Facebook that “our family has known and appreciated The Girl And The Fig family for over 20 years, and we know that they have always had the highest integrity in terms of inclusion and diversity and that they are allied with the social justice movement.”
A small business owner in the shop’s neighborhood said he believes the owners of The Girl And The Fig are good people, but said they are in a delicate spot trying to take a position on a polarizing issue.
“If they were to choose one side or the other, they’re going to alienate some segment of the customer base,” Aaron Mills, owner of the Sunflower Café, said.