San Francisco’s Hilda and Jesse restaurant is receiving some criticism over the decision of its owners and staff to deny service to three uniformed city police officers. The owners said they did not feel comfortable allowing the officers to dine at the eatery because their sidearms violated the “safe space” ideology.
Last Friday, the officers visited the restaurant, perhaps enticed by its advertised “Breakfast Without Boundaries.” After being seated, they soon learned that the staff felt “uncomfortable” because of the “presence of their multiple weapons.”
The owners said that the officers were “politely asked to leave” because they consider their restaurant to be a “safe space, particularly for queer and BIPOC individuals.”
Kristina Liedags Compton and Rachel Sillcocks, the establishment owners, posted a statement on social media saying that they respect the city’s police and are “grateful for the work they do.” They also said that officers are welcome at their business, but only when off duty, out of uniform, and not carrying their weapons.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association issued a statement that said the officers wanted to eat where they patrolled and were treated “without any tact or class.” The information added that it is fortunate that there are “plenty of restaurants that don’t discriminate” and will serve officers working to keep the city safe for all residents and visitors.
Police Chief Bill Scott responded by saying the refusal of service hurts community policing efforts. He said that community engagement is a “core principle” of the department’s efforts toward reforms and that the department asks officers to show support for local businesses.
He added that the SFPD stands for “safety with respect,” even when that means respecting wishes that he finds “discouraging and personally disappointing.”
Members of the public began responding by giving the restaurant negative reviews on websites like Yelp in addition to another backlash. Where the police department’s statements might not have gotten a response from the restaurant, the public marketplace did.
By Sunday night, the owners were ready to make a public apology. They said they made a mistake and apologized for the “unfortunate incident.” They said they are grateful to “all members of the force” who keep the community safe. Adding that they “mismanaged it,” they said they hoped to treat the situation as a “teachable moment.”