Restaurant employee suspended after fight over mask

Restaurant employee suspended after fight over mask

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Cases of the coronavirus are going up around Louisville and so are tempers.

A fight broke out at a Shively restaurant over a customer not wearing a mask.

It happened at the El Nopal at 4414 Dixie Highway. Police said the customer wasn’t interested in Kentucky’s requirement to wear a mask, and the employee wasn’t interested in his attitude.

Louisvillians told WAVE 3 News they were stunned to see the bloody Facebook post after Shively police were called to the restaurant Friday night. Officers said the man who was punched admitted that he refused to wear a mask.

“It sounds completely insane,” said Jason McIntyre, who was near the restaurant Monday. “Over a mask?”

There are 18 El Nopal restaurant locations in Kentucky
There are 18 El Nopal restaurant locations in Kentucky (Source: El Nopal - Facebook)
A fight broke out at a Mexican restaurant over a face mask, according to witnesses.
A fight broke out at a Mexican restaurant over a face mask, according to witnesses. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

According to the suspended employee’s own Facebook post, when the customer came in without a face covering, he said he “politely asked him if he had a mask.”

He said the customer, who was getting carry-out, cursed at him, and as he tried to hand the man a mask from the restaurant, the man used foul language again, threw his card at the cashier, and then got in his face, cursing again. The employee told WAVE 3 News he felt disrespected, and that’s why he lost it with the customer.

Louisvillians told WAVE 3 News it should never get physical, but they also said they have no problem wearing a mask.

“When I go in (a restaurant) until I sit down, it’s not a problem,” said Arron Rodriguez, a Louisville restaurant patron. His mother, Toni Rodriguez, said of the customer’s refusal: “It’s me, me, me, me, me. Here’s the thing, if this is what you need to do, then you should do it and there shouldn’t be a big freaking deal about it, there really shouldn’t. I mean, come on, how hard is it to put it on?”

Other restaurant owners like Louie Karem said it’s a problem. Signs are posted at his restaurant in Norton Commons, and he said they are ignored by some customers.

“I just had it happen an hour ago,” Karem said Monday afternoon, adding that he was in the kitchen cooking when one of his waiters told a customer to put on a mask.

“He said, ‘I don’t have one,’ so he continues to walk in and takes his hat off and puts it over his face and tries to walk in like that and we got into a get-out situation,” Karem said.

Karem also said his employees have plenty to do already and shouldn’t have to be mask security.

“We are in a new world, we’re having to follow the rules and the ones that don’t want to follow rules, stay home.”

Shively police said there were no arrests but they did give those involved information on how to take out a warrant if they choose. WAVE 3 News’ messages to the customer involved in the incident were not returned.

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