KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A controversial conversation at a River Market restaurant has lead to bad reviews and even death threats.
The owner of The Bite said it’s all a big misunderstanding, and everyone is welcome in his restaurant as they are.
The Bite owner Carlos Mortera said he and his employees take a stand on a lot of social issues.
“We support Black Lives Matter movement; we support DACA; we support immigrants coming into this country. We are open about the issues that are happening and that we support,” Mortera said.
However, Mortera said one part of the restaurant’s perceived philosophy was a misunderstanding.
In a letter to the Kansas City Police Department, an officer said an employee asked them not to wear their uniforms if they return to the restaurant.
Mortera said it happened on Sunday, June 7. He said the officers believed the employee had direction from him to say this but this wasn’t the case.
“She thought it was something positive that she was doing, which in a way was by starting a talking point, but she did it without thinking of the backlash,” Mortera said.
Mortera said the employee wanted to do something to respect the death of George Floyd and only asked if they could not come into the restaurant in uniform for the week.
The part of the email was posted on Facebook, and what happened next was a string of negative reviews. Mortera said he’s even receiving death threats.
“We need to get away from all these hatred messages that they keep anonymously calling us and leaving death threats,” Mortera said. “I understand we might have made you uncomfortable, but you should not be threatening someone’s livelihood if you don’t know them.”
Brad Lemon, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99, said recently in an interview that it’s been a hard time to be a police officer.
“We’re just in a really weird time in life where you can be attacked and viciously attacked in a way that people are so afraid of being involved or being known as supporting the police department. It’s just sad,” Lemon said.
Some customers said the misunderstanding won’t keep them away and even support what the employee said.
“I love The Bite. I personally know the shop, and they’re wonderful people and I stand by what they did,” customer Taylor Fourt said.
“This restaurant is a great restaurant. The people behind it are great people. They really love their community. The food is delicious, and cyberbullying is stupid,” customer Frida Lara said.
“If anybody wants to come down to the restaurant and talk to me, we can discuss anything,” Mortera said. “We can discuss why we believe in what we believe. I don’t want to change your mind, but maybe I can open it, we can open it.”
Mortera said the employee has resigned from their position.
City Market released the following statement on the incident:
“In light of the social justice issues our city and nation are confronting, emotions have been running high throughout our community, and unfortunately, an incident occurred that does not align with City Market’s customer service principles.
“Earlier this week, an employee of a City Market restaurant served uniformed police officers and expressed that they were welcome on return visits only wearing street clothes rather than uniforms. That employee has since taken responsibility for those remarks and has resigned from the restaurant.
“To be clear, the police officers were not refused service. City Market has always been a place of diversity and inclusion, and all our shops and restaurants welcome everyone without exception.”