A California restaurant closed over customers’ refusal to wear masks, harassment of employees – SF Gate

A taco restaurant in Los Angeles temporarily shuttered both of its locations Sunday, raising concerns over the safety of their employees as some customers refused to wear masks and reportedly harassed staff for asking them to do so.

“Our taco stands are exhausted by the constant conflicts,” read a statement from Hugo’s Tacos, which has restaurants in Atwater Village and Studio City. “Staff have been harassed, called names, and had objects and liquids thrown at them. A mask isn’t symbolic of anything other than our desire to keep our staff healthy.”

The message was shared on social media and taped to multiple windows outside of both restaurants. Executive chef Nabor Diaz told KTLA5 the closure was necessary because he didn’t have enough employees that felt safe enough to go to work as it was.

“At this point, we think it’s really important for us to put the safety of our crew first,” he said.

In San Francisco, one restaurant that shuttered over concerns of guests not wearing masks recently reopened for delivery and takeout again on June 5. Cassava had been closed since April 15. At the time, owner Yuka Ioroi said the move was done in part to urge city officials to mandate facial coverings. Such an order was later enforced in San Francisco on April 22.

MORE: Why simple cloth masks are better at stopping the spread of COVID-19

It is unclear when Hugo’s Tacos will reopen. The restaurant asked its clientele to check for updates on its website and social media accounts, thanking the “majority” of their guests, “who are always respectful and kind.”

A GoFundMe campaign for the staff was also launched Sunday, raising nearly half of its $10,000 fundraising goal by 3:15 p.m. Later that evening, the fundraising goal had been surpassed and was raised to $50,000. The funds will be evenly distributed among employees at both locations to make up for lost wages.

“By staying at work, Hugo’s Tacos employees were not only providing an essential service in the early days of Covid-19, but also just trying to feed their own families,” read the description of the campaign.

Amanda Bartlett is an SFGATE Digital Reporter. Email: amanda.bartlett@sfgate.com | Twitter: @byabartlett