Food & Drinks

St. Louis Restaurant Employees Allegedly Maced Over Mask Mandate

Customers continue to be assholes to restaurant employees when it comes to masks

Despite masks proving to be an effective way to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, some customers are still being raging assholes about wearing them. In the past few days alone:

A customer allegedly spit on an employee at Brew Belly, a restaurant in Olney, Md., after the worker asked him to wear a mask. (Masks are currently required indoors in Maryland.) Per CBS Baltimore: “County police couldn’t arrest or charge him with second-degree assault because Maryland Law prohibits police officers from making an arrest for second-degree assault if they didn’t see it. Instead, police issued a trespass order for the suspect.”

In Nashville restaurant the Mockingbird, a bachelorette party of 10 allegedly threw a tantrum after not being allowed to move their restaurant tables together — a violation of current health orders, which specify “no parties of more than six people” in restaurants. Some in the party reportedly refused to wear a mask, and one allegedly intentionally coughed on the restaurant’s assistant manager (two of the women in the party denied these allegations). The co-owner of the Mockingbird, Mikey Corona, told WKRN News 2 that the restaurant is pressing charges. The employee “is now going to be quarantined, she’s got to get tested, she can’t be around her family,” said Corona. “As a business, we are having to pay for her not to be here, as well, and so it’s just a struggle all around and it’s not necessary.”

Employees at Incredible Pizza Company, a pizza and arcade center in St. Louis, Mo., — where masks are required indoors — say they were shoved, spit on, and maced as they tried to escort out customers who refused to wear masks. “Once I was sprayed, I knew instantly what had happened and it was the worst pain I had felt in my life, just excruciating, burning obviously in my nose and mouth,” an employee told KMOV. The business said it would increase security to prevent incidents like this from happening again.

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These kinds of incidents highlight the impossible situation that restaurant, store, and other customer-facing employees find themselves in, as de-facto enforcers of mask rules. Some businesses, such as Walmart, will still serve customers who refuse to wear masks despite store policies, in order to avoid potentially violent confrontations between customers and employees. If I could offer just a couple more suggestions to address scenarios like the above: hire a lot more security and increase the pay of all employees who have to deal with potentially volatile customers.

And in other news…

  • There’s plenty of food in the world. It’s poverty and oppression that are keeping people hungry. [NPR]
  • “[T]the power of the chef-auteur as an idea is fading, and as restaurant workers organize and speak up about abusive workplaces, toxic bosses and inequities in pay and benefits, it’s clear that the restaurant industry has to change.” [NYT]
  • Grocery sales of Beyond Meat — and plant-based meat in general — have soared during the pandemic. [CNBC]
  • Did anyone think hard seltzer ice cream would be good? [WaPo]

All AM Intel Coverage [E]

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