July 3, 2020 / 12:06 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-California taco chain shuts after abuse by customers refusing to wear masks

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By Rollo Ross

July 2 (Reuters) - After the relentless abuse hurled at workers at a California taco chain by customers who refused to wear masks, the chief financial officer at Hugo’s Tacos decided enough was enough.

Bill Kohne said he made the decision to close the doors at Hugo’s Tacos to protect his staff, who were becoming traumatized by the constant verbal attacks.

“Over the last two, three, four weeks the emotions attached to simply asking people to wear one while they’re with us has become really vitriolic and at times, personal, hostile and abusive,” said Kohne.

Ellie Rosalez, who manages one of two taco stands in the Los Angeles area that has shut, said the barrage of name calling, mocking and objects being thrown was just too much to take. “All we asked for was for respect.”

A GoFundMe page set up to help the workers of the stands has surged, reaching its goal of $50,000.

Kohne said they have become aware that people across the country are having the same experience, and that the wearing of masks is not a decision made by Hugo Tacos but is part of the health code.

“They require us to only serve people with masks so for us it’s very black and white but for customers, it’s become an entirely different thing,” he said.

“It’s really time for us to all collectively say ‘Enough of this behavior.’”

Kohne is now working out how to reopen the stands with additional security for his staff and well-behaved customers.

“If you’d told me 15 years ago that we would have security at a taco stand, I may have laughed at you but it seems that at least until people have collectively decided to take a breath on this, we’re going to need help out front, for sure.” (Reporting by Alan Devall and Rollo Ross; Writing by Diane Craft; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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