A San Francisco restaurant has apologised after asking three uniformed and armed police officers to leave the premises after they sat down to have a meal.
The restaurant, Hilda and Jesse, posted on Instagram on Saturday that members of staff “felt uncomfortable with the presence of their multiple weapons” and “politely asked” the officers to leave the all-day breakfast eatery.
This prompted hundreds of people to post negative reviews for the restaurant.
“The San Francisco Police Department stands for safety with respect, even when it means respecting wishes that our officers and I find discouraging and personally disappointing,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said on Twitter.
“I believe the vast majority of San Franciscans welcome their police officers, who deserve to know that they are appreciated for the difficult job we ask them to do — in their uniforms — to keep our neighbourhoods and businesses safe,” he added.
The restaurant said on Saturday that they would welcome officers “when they are off duty, out of uniform, and without their weapons”.
“This is not a political statement, we did what we thought was best for our staff,” they said.
One of the owners of the restaurant, Rachel Sillcocks, said in another statement: “Our restaurant is a safe space — particularly for queer and BIPOC individuals. Furthermore, the fact that they were in uniform with multiple weapons on them made our staff uncomfortable, and potentially other guests.”
“We’re sorry that the decision upset you,” she added. “We understand your perspective and we hope you’ll consider ours.”
Ms Sillcocks apologised on Sunday along with fellow owner Kristina Liedags.
“We made a mistake and apologise for the unfortunate incident on Friday when we asked members of the San Francisco Police Department to leave our restaurant,” the restaurant posted on Instagram. “We are grateful to all members of the force who work hard to keep us safe, especially during these challenging times. We hope this will be a teachable moment for us as we repair and continue to build bridges with the SFPD. These are stressful times, and we handled this badly.”
Ms Sillcocks told KGO-TV on Sunday that the episode had “nothing to do with the fact that they were officers”.
“It is about the fact that we do not allow weapons in our restaurant,” she added.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Dean Preston tweeted on Sunday that “armed police make some folks feel safer and others feel less safe. That’s just a fact”.
“I refuse to eat here again because you refused to serve on-duty police officers,” one person, among hundreds who left one-star reviews, wrote on the restaurant’s Yelp page.
Another Yelp user left a five-star review, writing: “Thanks, but I don’t want a gun with my waffles.”
“San Francisco is San Francisco for a reason!” they added.
Yelp posted an “unusual activity alert” on the restaurant’s page amid the increased attention, writing: “This business recently received increased public attention, which often means people come to this page to post their views on the news. While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to this incident, we’ve temporarily disabled the posting of content to this page as we work to investigate the content you see here reflects actual consumer experiences rather than the recent events.”
Six police officers were asked to leave a Starbucks in Tempe, Arizona in 2019 after an “anxious, nervous, or uncomfortable” customer asked one of the members of staff why the officers were in the coffee shop, The New York Times reported. Starbucks apologized on social media and took out full-page ads in newspapers as the #BoycottStarbucks hashtag was shared on Twitter.