Restaurant that posted controversial sign gets food permit suspended
A New Mexico restaurant has had its food service permit suspended months after sparking backlash with a sign he put up in March.
Country Family Restaurant in Kirtland had its permit suspended last week by the New Mexico Environment Department over allegedly violating statewide health orders that prohibit indoor dining and require employees to wear masks.
Owner Steve Jackson told The Farmington Daily Times the state has not shown any proof that indoor dining increases the spread of COVID-19.
Jackson initially kicked up controversy by posting a sign on March 24 blaming China for the coronavirus.
“CLOSED you can thank CHINA!!” the sign read.
The sign was shared on social media, and then published in the Navajo Post, where it gained further traction within the city.
Jackson was called a “bigot” in Facebook posts slamming the sign. Several members of the Navajo Nation urged others not to support the establishment.
The owner claimed the sign was misinterpreted.
“I stuck up that little-bitty sign that explained my thoughts about the communist Chinese government and the way they treat their people,” Jackson said.
Jackson later put up a different sign, “CLOSED you can thank the CHINESE GOVERNMENT (Look it up),”
But it reportedly did little to minimize the backlash.
“These are microaggressions that happen to minority people, and it’s not right,” Peter Deswood, a Farmington Municipal School District principal, podcast host and small business owner said to The Daily Times. “I’ve seen that kind of behavior in this area. And if a significant amount of your customers are minority people, you can’t talk like that.”
However, Jackson stood by what he said at the time.
“We have no reason to apologize for anything,” he said. “If you’re a communist sympathizer, I can’t help you. But none of these people (who have complained about the sign) ever contacted me and asked me what I think.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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