Bay Area celebrity chef faces threats, backlash following MAGA cap ban

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- A notable Bay Area chef and culinary celebrity says he's received multiple threats after a pair of his tweets went viral.

Earlier this week, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, chef-partner at Wursthall Restaurant and Bierhaus, said he would refuse service to anyone who came into his business wearing a Make America Great Again baseball cap. The stance has since drawn national attention and mixed reaction from patrons.

RELATED: San Mateo restaurant owner won't serve customers wearing MAGA hats

"I never ever thought that the United States would be in this position that we're in right now," said Pacifica resident Michael Campbell. "He's (Lopez-Alt) serving the public and everyone deserves a fair chance at eating anywhere they want to eat."

On Sunday, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt tweeted, "It hasn't happened yet, but if you come to my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren't getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or any other symbol of intolerance and hate."

Lopez-Alt followed up that tweet by writing, "MAGA hats are like white hoods, except stupider, because you can see exactly who is wearing them."

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The tweets, which were deleted Thursday morning, raise questions about businesses refusing service to customers based on political belief. John Boyle, former chairman of the San Mateo County Republican Party was surprised to learn about the restaurant's decision.

"It's a slippery slope," said Boyle. "From there, are you going to refuse service on somebody's religious beliefs or somebody's economic beliefs? It's the kind of thing that's just really inappropriate."

However, others understood where the chef was coming from. San Mateo resident Alvaro Mendizabal said, "It's his own business, so why not stand up for what you believe in? People who wear that hat stand up for something. His decision also stands up for something, so that should be respected."

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Lopez-Alt told ABC7 News that employee safety is his top priority, following what he says has been a string of threats made to him and his staff.

"The threatening of each other is just not going to be the answer to these problems that we're having and the division that we're having. Having discourse about it would be much more effective," said Redwood Shores resident Julie McMillan.
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