‘MAGA’ hat kerfuffle stirs up trouble for Cheesecake Factory
Staying out of trouble is difficult in today’s polarized climate.
Your organization might say all the right things and stay out of politics,
but political discord increasingly is encroaching on public spaces—and the
exchange is not always civil.
A Florida man who is a big Trump supporter wore his red “Make America Great
Again” hat to dinner with his girlfriend’s family at The Cheesecake Factory
at Dadeland Mall for Mother’s Day. According to reports, some restaurant
employees did not appreciate his presence.
The Miami Herald reported:
Joseph said it was mid-afternoon Sunday when a large group including his
girlfriend and her mother headed over to the Cheesecake Factory to
celebrate Mother’s Day. They weren’t seated long, he said, when someone in
the group pointed out a waitress who was standing behind him pointing at
Then, Joseph and others in the group said, other employees joined in. Soon,
it felt as if the entire staff of the Cheesecake Factory was closing in on
him and his favorite red ball cap.
“A guy said, ‘I want to knock the hat off your head,” said Joseph, who
plans on taking summer classes at Florida International University. “I
really love Trump. It’s my sole reason for getting into politics.”
Joseph’s group left and his mother-in-law called the police. As they were
leaving, Joseph said a store manager came forward and apologized. The
one-paragraph Miami-Dade police report says no harm, no foul.
Despite the police report, a furor was whipped up on conservative media
outlets, and The Cheesecake Factory has since apologized. Two employees
involved have left the company.
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All guests should always feel welcome in our restaurants. The recent incident in one of our Miami restaurants fell short of our standards, and we apologize to the guest and his family. Two individuals are no longer employed by the company, and we are continuing to investigate. pic.twitter.com/gbrh1Ok8iC
— Cheesecake Factory (@Cheesecake) May 16, 2018
Joseph says company executives haven’t specifically apologized to him,
despite the store manager’s apology immediately after the incident.
WPXI News reported:
that the Cheesecake Factory has not apologized to him personally.
After the suspension, The Cheesecake Factory announced that the two
employees who made the comments are no longer employed by the company.
It released the following statement from Alethea Row, the restaurant
chain’s senior director of Public Relations:
“We were very disappointed to learn that two staff members made
disparaging remarks about Mr. Joseph’s hat that made him and his family
feel unwelcome. As a result, as of Tuesday those two individuals are no
longer employed with the company. No guest should ever feel unwelcome
in one of our restaurants and we are very sorry. Our investigation is
ongoing and we have reached out to Mr. Joseph directly to ask for his
assistance. We are taking this situation seriously, however, not all of
the information reported by the media accurately portrays what
occurred. The situation may have been exacerbated by an all-staff
meeting that took place during our shift change between our staff
members working the lunch and dinner shifts – which may have been
perceived as a crowd gathering near the guests’ tables. We look forward
to speaking with Mr. Joseph to welcome him back into one of our
The response has been insufficient for some:
Not good enough, @Cheesecake factory. https://t.co/k9FNK3YLkT
— Herman Cain (@THEHermanCain) May 15, 2018
Others are drawing comparisons to the incident involving two black men who were arrested for “trespassing” at a Starbucks.
Think Cheescake Factory will close all their stores for a day of race sensitivity training for EVERY EMPLOYEE at a cost of $16 million like Starbucks? Using the left’s warped logic, the fact that he’s a @realDonaldTrump supporter negates his blackness. https://t.co/FUz1IlnKml
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) May 15, 2018
The Cheesecake Factory is pushing back on the official narrative as
criticism continues to fall on its employees.
“Not all of the information reported by the media accurately portrays what
occurred,” a Cheesecake Factory spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in a
statement. “The situation may have been exacerbated by an all-staff meeting
that took place during our shift change between our staff members working
the lunch and dinner shifts – which may have been perceived as a crowd
gathering near the guests’ tables.”
Some vowed to find other restaurants to patronize:
My family enjoys eating at the Cheesecake Factory, but, based on the treatment of Mr. Joseph and the lame corporate response suggesting that errors in perception exist, we can and will simply eat elsewhere.
— johnnywat (@jhnwtsn60) May 16, 2018
What do you think of The Cheesecake Factory’s response, PR Daily readers?