https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/art ... 676313.phpThe owners of San Francisco restaurant Hilda and Jesse apologized Sunday in the face of criticism for asking three armed, uniformed city police officers who were dining there to leave because staffers “felt uncomfortable with the presence of their multiple weapons.”
“We made a mistake and apologize for the unfortunate incident Friday when we asked members of the San Francisco Police Department to leave our restaurant,” co-owners Rachel Sillcocks and Kristina Liedags Compton posted on the restaurant’s Instagram page Sunday afternoon, following a flurry of backlash from police and online reviewers.
“We are grateful to all members of the force who work hard to keep us safe, especially during these challenging times,” the statement said. “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.”
A spokesperson for the restaurant did not immediately respond to emailed questions seeking more detail about the encounter on Friday. Follow up questions sent to the SFPD on Sunday were also not answered Sunday.
At the restaurant on Union Street in North Beach, Sillcocks said Sunday morning that the staff was busy preparing to open, and she would not be available to provide more information until later.
After reports of the incident spread on social media Saturday, the restaurant later that day had posted a description of what happened.
Soon after the officers were seated on Friday, restaurant staffers “politely asked them to leave,” according to the Instagram post, because “the presence of their weapons in the restaurant made us uncomfortable.” “The restaurant is a safe space,” the post said. “This is not a political statement, we did what we thought was best for our staff.”
“We respect the San Francisco police Department and are grateful for the work they do. We welcome them into the restaurant when they are off duty, out of uniform, and without their weapons.”
In response, the Police Department referred The Chronicle to a statement by Chief Bill Scott on Twitter. In it, he said, “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.”
“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 neighborhoods and businesses safe,” Scott said.
Sillcocks and Compton opened Hilda and Jesse on Nov. 1 on Union Street after it got its start in 2019 as a pop-up in the Richmond District.
By Sunday, the restaurant had received a flood of negative reviews on Yelp, with hundreds of reviewers criticizing it for the Friday incident, though some expressed support.
Another Bay Area restaurant, Hasta Muerte in Oakland, drew national attention in 2018 when a worker denied service to a uniformed, armed police officer under the ownership collective’s policy, which The Chronicle reported was to not serve uniformed officers because their presence could compromise the physical and emotional safety of its customers, many of whom are people of color.
At one point the restaurant also used the Haste Muerte excuse by saying they served LGBTQ and POC who are uncomfortable with police.
Their first mangled Instagram post.
"We would happily welcome them off duty, out of uniform and without weapons. We're sorry that the decision upset you. We understand your perspective and we hope you'll consider ours," she continued. Sillcocks told ABC 7 that asking the officers had nothing to do with their profession, and everything to do with the presence of their weapons.
"It's not about the fact that we are anti-police," she told ABC7. "It is about the fact that we do not allow weapons in our restaurant. We were uncomfortable, and we asked them to leave. It has nothing to do that they were officers. It has everything to do that they were carrying guns."
"We understand how much the police support and protect the community," she added. "We want to again reiterate the fact that this is about guns being in our space, and we don't allow it."
Following the incident, the restaurant's Yelp page was flooded with one star reviews from those that disagreed with their decision to ask the officers to leave. Their rating on the website was brought down to one star as a result.
"This is one of those times I wish I could post with zero stars. The owners and staff of this place have little regard for their customers and are more than guilty of excluding some customers because of their chosen profession. It will be interesting if this dump experiences a smash and grab and who the owners call for help," wrote one Yelp user. "Building a business on principles of disrespect, bias and prejudice is some kind of model."
"Telling uniformed police officers to leave your business because they are carrying guns?? Your staff feels uncomfortable because someone has a gun in your restaurant? Uniformed cops who are actually protecting you? You say you have a policy to not allow guns on your premises? Can you produce that policy?"
Responded another Yelp user. Seriously? I hope you get robbed ! Who you gunna call? The ghost busters? Do you really think any SFPD will respond to any call for service at your restaurant?"
"Given that this business has decided to Discriminate against first responders, I reserve the right to Call For A Boycott Of Hilda and Jesse. Because if Hilda and Jesse can discriminate against an officer on Lunch, then what is to stop them from doing the same to Health Care Workers due to a fear of COVID," wrote one Yelp user. "I am an Out Gay Man in SF, and I find the misrepresentation that the LGBTQ community needs protection from the SFPD to be offensive."
They just opened November 1st and are already pissing off potential customers, they might be good with food but they have no business or PR sense, they won't last a year. The same naïve thinking that has produced CAs gun laws."To the owners, If you prohibit weapons why do you have kitchen knives? You told the cops you didn't trust them with their work tools," wrote another Yelp user, who gave five stars "just because my 1 star review would get lost within the others."