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San Francisco restaurant apologizes after refusing to serve cops because of their guns

Hilda and Jesse restaurant was bombarded with one-star reviews online after asking uniformed police officers to leave because their guns were upsetting to some of the staff.
Brontë Wittpenn
The owners of the restaurant Hilda and Jesse in San Francisco have apologized after the staff asked three police officers to leave after their patrons were uncomfortable with the officers being armed.San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The owners of a San Francisco restaurant apologized two days after three uniformed police officers were asked to leave because staff members were uncomfortable with them carrying firearms.

Hilda and Jesse restaurant was bombarded with one-star reviews on its Yelp page after sharing on Instagram on Dec. 3 that its staff "felt uncomfortable with the presence of their multiple weapons" and "politely asked" the three police officers to leave.

The owners wrote in another statement that the restaurant is "a safe space - particularly for queer and bipoc individuals," and welcomed the officers to return when they are "off duty, out of uniform, and without their weapons." They added that the decision was "not a political statement."

The refusal to serve the officers prompted online backlash. Owners Rachel Sillcocks and Kristina Liedags Compton then issued an apology on Instagram Sunday.

"We made a mistake and apologize for the unfortunate incident on Friday when we asked members of the San Francisco Police Department to leave our restaurant," they wrote. "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 within the SFPD. These are stressful times, and we handled this badly."

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott tweeted a response on Dec. 4 after learning of the officers being asked to leave.

"Community engagement is a core principle of SFPD’s 21st century police reforms, and we are intentional about asking our officers to support local businesses and get to know those they’re sworn to safeguard," he wrote.

"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."

The restaurant's owners met with police at SFPD's central station a day after the incident to discuss it, according to NBC Bay Area.

The business received a torrent of one-star reviews on its Yelp page, many of them from people living out of the area, which caused Yelp to suspend reviews being allowed, according to a statement by Yelp on the Hilda and Jesse page.

"We’re in the middle of a crime wave and this place tells two police officers to leave? Forget it. SFPD is one of the most diverse forces in the nation and are literally saving lives daily if not hourly," commented one person.

"As a nurse and person who serves alongside officers and other first responders, I’m disappointed to see this so-called 'non-political' decision from a business," another wrote.

"Love this place and fully support them," another commenter wrote. "Thanks but I don’t want a gun with my waffles. I also fully support the police, I don’t think that these viewpoints diametrical.

"San Francisco is San Francisco for a reason!"

This is latest incident involving staff members of a restaurant have drawn criticism for refusing to serve uniformed police officers. Starbucks issued an apology in 2019 when six officers were asked to leave a location in Arizona because a customer didn't feel safe in their presence.

Starbucks also fired an employee in Oklahoma and apologized in 2019 when the employee wrote "pig" on the cup for a police officer.

Last year, an Ohio-based taco restaurant chain closed several locations after a group of employees refused to fill orders for law enforcement.