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California chef lifts ban on ‘Make America Great Again’ hats

SAN MATEO, Calif. — A San Francisco Bay Area restaurant owner who was criticized after saying he would refuse service to anyone wearing a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap has apologized and reversed course, saying Friday his restaurant will keep serving everyone.

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, a chef-partner at the Wursthall restaurant in San Mateo, said in a statement on the Medium website that his political opinions will not interfere with service.

Lopez-Alt apologized to his staff and business partners for not considering them before he tweeted Sunday: “It hasn’t happened yet, but if you come to my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren’t getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or any other symbol of intolerance and hate.”

He said Friday the tweet was his personal perspective, not restaurant policy. The tweet was no longer available.

“After having seen the red hat displayed so prominently in so many moments of anger, hate, and violence, to me —and many others — the hat began to symbolize exactly that: anger, hate, and violence,” Lopez-Alt wrote.

The red hats, which are sold on President Donald Trump’s campaign website, have become polarizing. The hats were worn by some Kentucky high school students involved in a Jan. 18 confrontation with a Native American elder near the Lincoln Memorial.

Lopez-Alt, who wrote the 2015 book, “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science,” said Friday that his mother is an immigrant from Japan and his father is from Pennsylvania. He said his family includes people on every side of the political spectrum.

“Unfortunately the way I tried to communicate this ended up only amplifying the anger, and I apologize for that,” he said.

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