A popular Mexican restaurant in Dearborn Heights has closed its dining room after two weeks of battling customers over rules requiring them to wear face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Mexican Fiesta went back to carryout only Monday, just two weeks after reopening its dining room. It had been closed under the state’s stay-home orders during the pandemic. “Unfortuately, there were multiple situations where our staff was disrespected and treated rudely,” the restaurant said in announcing the decision on its Facebook page. “The safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority so we have made the tough decision of closing our doors to the general public until further notice.” The Facebook post has more than 500 comments with many saddened, but praising the restaurant for its decision. Sam Alvarado, manager of the family-owned and operated restaurant, said its staff has encountered verbals insults, mainly stemming from people upset about and not wanting to wear a mask into the building. Alvarado said the verbal run-ins including customers being generally insulting, using foul language, accusing the restaurant of infringing on their rights or saying it’s not medically safe. “A very small minority of people just became really aggressive with foul language and pushing,” Alvarado said. “Most of our customers have been amazing. “ The decision to close the dining room came from the owners over the weekend because everything was getting too tense, he said. The Free Press reported last week that restaurant owners in metro Detroit say they are finding it difficult to police face mask wearing and social distancing rules as they try to keep customers and their staffs safe. The wearing of face masks in public — meant to stem the spread of the virus — have become a contentious and somewhat political issue across the country. President Trump, notably, has refused to wear one. Meanwhile, some restaurant workers say they are worried about their safety as COVID-19 case numbers have recently started spiking in other states, such as Florida and Texas. “A very small minority of people just became really aggressive with foul language and pushing,” Alvarado said. “Most of our customers have been amazing.” Alvarado said he ended up calling the police on Saturday after a third-party delivery driver got physical with him when he was told he had to wear a mask. “He didn’t want to abide by the regulations we had in place,” Alvarado said. Alvarado said he was working the door, monitoring the number of people to come into the restaurant, directing customer traffic and ensuring that everyone was wearing a mask when the driver came in. “He was not happy because he came into the lobby without a mask and I asked him to wait on the porch, but then he was barging through the front door.” Third-party delivery drivers, Alvarado said, have to wait on the porch, not inside the building, and wear a mask. Tempers flared. “He got physical, really close and pushing. He was trying to barge through the doors,” Alvarado said. Dearborn Heights police confirmed officers were sent to the restaurant on Saturday but no report was taken. Alvarado said the officers asked the driver to leave the property. “I didn’t press charges and didn’t want to pursue it,” Alvarado said. The restaurant will remain open for carryout and curbside, as it has been doing during the pandemic. Alvarado said, hopefully, will get back to dine in as soon as possible. They plan on trying to come with a way to handle everything that’s easier on everybody. Mexican Fiesta was founded in 1962 by Sam and Frances Alvarado. The restaurant grew, opening locations in Canton and Hartland and operated by family members. The Dearborn Heights location is the largest with four dining rooms and the capacity of about seating about 300 people. Under the reopening guidelines, Alvarado said they are operating at less than the 50% capacity permitted and they are short staffed. “It’s really difficult to do just what we are doing as it is and trying to keep everybody safe,” he said. Contact Susan Selasky at: 313-222-6872 or email@example.com. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter. This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Dearborn Heights restaurant closes dining room, weary of battling customers over face masks ___ (c)2020 the Detroit Free Press Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Dearborn Heights restaurant closes dining room, weary of battling customers over face masks