Honolulu’s Café 8 ½ gets rave reviews on Yelp for its “Radiatore Verde” and “Italian stir fry,” among other popular dishes at the eclectic mom-and-pop restaurant – but the response to its new ‘policy’ barring pro-Trump patrons has been decidedly more mixed.
A bright yellow, handmade sign posted on the restaurant’s front glass door declares: “If you voted for Trump you cannot eat here! No Nazis.”
A photo of the sign was shared with FoxNews.com. One also is proudly posted on the café’s Facebook page, and was “liked” by some 40 people.
“…The next time you’re in Honolulu, eat lunch here, not only are they on the right side of things, the food is delicious and reasonable,” one Facebook user wrote next to the photo.
Others aren’t so charmed.
Honolulu resident and Donald Trump voter Susan Roberts told FoxNews.com she found the sign in “extreme poor taste.”
“It’s childish and very unprofessional,” she said in an email. “… The restaurant owner doesn’t have to worry … I will not be stepping foot in that establishment.”
Willes Lee, former chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party and now president of National Federation of Republican Assemblies, told FoxNews.com the sign is discriminatory, and harkens back to “racist and hate-filled” days before statehood.
“Remember when Filipinos couldn’t go in certain places, or Japanese wouldn’t be allowed [in] many homes? And, it didn’t matter who they voted for,” said Lee, who is of Japanese descent.
“People should be able to get food without hearing a political message,” one apparent former customer wrote on Yelp. “I will never go back.”
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the café was founded by Robert Warner, a former hair stylist for Vidal Sassoon in San Francisco and former restaurateur in Seattle, along with his wife Jali.
Reached for comment Tuesday, Jali downplayed the sign’s supposed ban. She told FoxNews.com the restaurant is not actually asking customers whether they voted for President-elect Trump, and said even if they see a customer with a Trump shirt, “we don’t put anything different [in] your food.”
“Robert just wants to express how much he doesn’t like Trump,” Jali said. “If people take it personally or it hurts them, we cannot help. That’s why we say they have [a] choice if they want to come or not come. We don’t force them.”
She said three people called to complain about the sign when it first went up, “that’s it.”
“We don’t want to create trouble,” Jali said. “There is enough trouble in the world.”
While Jali is soft-spoken, Warner, some customers note, is known to channel the “soup Nazi” persona of New York City and “Seinfeld” fame — “throwing pots and pans,” “telling off customers,” and “hanging not-so-friendly reminders on butcher paper for his customers to read.”
But another Yelp reviewer took issue with the attitude and the sign, writing: “It was funny on Seinfeld, but this place can rot away. Stay away. Hawaii ain’t like this. There’s a lot of better places on the island than to have deal with extra crap like this.”
Hawaii overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton during the Nov. 8 election, and historically has supported Democrats in local and national races. In fact, just six Republicans are in the 51-member House, and the 25-member Senate is GOP-free.
Now that the election is over, however, Lee said most residents want to just get on with their lives.
“The [restaurant] owners might want to make a better sign,” he said, “since Trump will undoubtedly be in office for eight years.”