The Cheesecake Factory is investigating an incident at one of its Miami locations after a black customer claims he was verbally attacked by staff over his “Make America Great Again” hat, The Daily Wire reports.
Eugenior Joseph, 22, was reportedly dining with his girlfriend’s family at the Dadeland Mall location of the restaurant on Mother’s Day. His MAGA hat allegedly drew the attention of a female staff member, who gathered her co-workers to confront him, a witness told the site. The witness further claimed about a dozen of those employees circled his table, pointing fingers.
"So then all the employees started standing there, saying things out loud, like, 'I'm going to knock his head in so hard his hat's going to come off," the source said.
Other witnesses for The Daily Wire said some employees used the n-word in reference to Joseph when speaking among themselves, while another brandished his fists.
Joseph himself told The Daily Wire that one employee stood behind him, "balling his fists, smacking his fists, trying to scare me."
At one point, Joseph claims he and his girlfriend got up to use the restroom and, upon exiting, were greeted by the employees, who were “clapping and yelling, and just screaming things at me.”
The kitchen staff also allegedly booed him as he walked by.
Eugenior Joseph, 22, told The Daily Wire that employees at the Dadeland Mall location of the Cheesecake Factory were "just screaming things at me" over his MAGA hat. (Google Street View)
Joseph and his girlfriend’s family eventually left the restaurant, only to run into police waiting outside, the report says. It is unclear who called the police to the restaurant. Witnesses say the officers did not file any charges against the restaurant or employees.
The Daily Wire claims to have viewed footage and photographs that confirm the witnesses' reports. The site also says the footage shows one young girl crying inside the restaurant, as well as Joseph's girlfriend's family speaking with multiple police officers who arrived at the restaurant.
The Cheesecake Factory has since released a statement regarding the incident.
"No guest should ever feel unwelcomed in one of our restaurants and we are taking this matter very seriously," reads a statement obtained by Fox News. "Upon learning of this incident, we immediately apologized to the guests in person. The individuals involved in the incident have been suspended pending the results of our investigation."
The Cheesecake Factory also issued the same statement in a Twitter response to Ann Coulter.
News of the Miami incident follows similar allegations of patrons at dining or drinking establishments facing harassment over their MAGA hats. In January 2017, Philadelphia native Greg Piatek claims he was refused service and removed from a New York City bar for wearing his MAGA hat. Meanwhile, the bar — called The Happiest Hour — maintained that Piatek was never removed from the establishment, and actually left a $36 tip upon leaving of his own accord.
A judge in Manhattan later ruled that the bar would be within its right to refuse service based on political differences, as the law does not protect against such discrimination.