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‘Not allowed in my restaurant ever!’ The Fox News comment that thrust a Seattle dive into a culture war

It all started — believe it or not — on the Fox News Facebook page. People were talking about the Virginia restaurant owner who kicked out Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and a man named Paul wrote something Fox News readers really didn’t appreciate: That Sanders was “Not allowed in my restaurant ever!

And what restaurant is that? Paul’s Facebook cover image suggested an answer: Seattle’s iconic 5 Point Cafe.

Best advert yet to not visit your restaurant,” went the nicest of hundreds of responses to Paul’s comment. “We will spread the news sir.”

And spread it they did. Several 1-star reviews started appearing on the 5 Point’s Facebook and Yelp pages Tuesday. There’s just one problem. “Paul” isn’t the owner of the 5 Point. Seattle’s David Meinert is.

“Oh the internet,” David posted on Facebook Wednesday, explaining what happened. And he cleared the record: Contrary to what this Paul guy implied — and what out-of-town conservatives might expect from a local dive in an anti-Trump city — the 5 Point welcomes “pretty much” everyone. “We’re not kicking anyone out because of their political views,” David wrote.

 

As for David’s own views, he’s not shy about sharing them, even as a business owner. “While I lean left, I’m a political pragmatist and have been boycotted by the left and the right for different stances I’ve taken,” he wrote on the Fox News Facebook thread. In 2013, he ticked off folks on the right when he declared his bars and restaurants (he owns several) to be gun free zones. In 2014, he ticked off folks on the left when he tried to convince local servers that a $15 minimum wage without a tip credit would threaten their tips. (He said he also supported going to $15 quicker than what passed.)

To a lot of people, the story about the restaurant that kicked out Sanders is about way more than Trump. It’s about how we coexist in a society so divided, it can feel like people with different political views are doing intolerable harm to society. Can welcoming pretty much everyone still be a thing? We’ll see. In the meantime, we called David to hear more.

ON WHO HANGS AT THE 5 POINT: “My view is we have conservative customers — John Carlson comes in, who is a Republican talk show host — we have liberals, we have everyone. We have sex workers and pastors. … Politicians and transgender employees. But the rule at the 5 Point is that you treat people well. And if you don’t, then you get kicked out.”

ON THE HOT MESS OF POLITICS: “I want to be a place that’s tolerant of diversity and that includes a diversity of views. I also don’t think we should take each other’s political views so serious. I get that there are political views that I think are dangerous and negative and hurt people. But that’s different than the person hurting people. And I think we have to make that case.”

ON HOW WE TREAT EACH OTHER: “I have family members who are right-wing Fox News following racist sexist homophobes that are really good people. And they actually treat people better than many liberals I know, who can be elitist snobs.”

ON WHETHER HE’D SERVE SANDERS: “I don’t blame the restaurant that kicked Sanders out. That’s up to them. I don’t know Sanders. She could be a lovely person for all I know. She seems like a fool. … But I think we’re all so ready to attack each other. … You can be right wing in Seattle and come eat at the 5 Point. You might sit next to transgender sex worker who’s a socialist, but everyone’s welcome. … The rule at the 5 Point is that you treat people well. And if you don’t, then you get kicked out.”

ON WHETHER POLITICS IS BAD FOR BUSINESS: “There’s 6 billion people on the planet or something crazy? The 5 Point holds 65, so I’m good. Not everyone’s gonna like me, not everyone’s gonna like the 5 Point. … My worry is just I also think we live in a time where the loudest voices are the fewest. The people screaming are a tiny minority.”

So what’s happened since the mix-up?

  • Fox News Facebook page followers figured out their mistake, felt bad, and shamed others into doing their research before they “destroy someone’s rep and business.”
  • Yelp took down several 1-star reviews while David’s friends posted a few new 5-star ones.
  • Debate on the 5 Point’s Facebook page heated up, with some locals really not liking David’s take on all this.
  • And OH YEAH: After we messaged him about his comment that started all this, “Paul,” whoever he is, deleted the comment and changed his cover photo. When we got in touch with Paul, he said he didn’t mean to imply he was the owner of 5 Point. “It was a spur-of-the-moment generalized hypothetical comment,” he wrote us. “I’m guilty of [having] a 5 Point cover photo… I just can’t stand Trump is all.” 

See something else going on in the city that outlines this strange political time we’re in? Email us at [email protected]