WFAEats: Do I Have The 'Right' To Refuse Serving You?

Jul 24, 2018

In a trend we can describe as “out of the frying pan; into the fire,” our country’s discord has poured out of the hallowed halls of politics and into the world of restaurants.

You’ve no doubt heard about the incident at the Red Hen in Lexington, Va. That’s where White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went to dine back in June. Restaurant owner Stephanie Wilkinson, in a show of support for her gay staffers, asked Sanders to leave and cited the current administration’s policies as the reason.

Was that just a blip, an accident of timing?

Well, no. Twice recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was heckled at restaurants in his home state of Kentucky. Protesters and restaurant staff disrupted McConnell’s visits and demanded the abolition of ICE, according to reports from the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Now, the 2020 Republican National Convention is scheduled to take place in Charlotte. Already the heat is building in the metaphorical kitchen. There’s a good chance we’ll feel it play out in actual kitchens in real restaurants.

How did we get here? Did it start when the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, on the grounds it violated the owners’ religious beliefs – and took their case to the Supreme Court?

Is fighting over who gets a place at the table something new?

Actually, no. It’s not new at all. Remember the Civil Rights sit-ins? Where did they take place? At lunch counters and other public accommodations. And it sure seems that we’re headed smack into another era when we’ll see more confrontations – possibly resembling those more than 50 years ago, and those happening now.

This June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the bakers in the Colorado case. Even so, pundits predict there will be a lot more to hash out regarding where to draw the line between free speech and equal protection under the law.

So consider this: What would you do if a restaurant, bakery, or other business refused to serve you? If you work in one of these businesses, would you make a stand against a customer?

WFAEats wants your input. Check out our survey below and tell us in the comments what you would do.

We’ll be serving up more on this story soon. 

Amy Rogers writes WFAEats, a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and tackle the meatier side of the food scene in and around Charlotte.