DENTON, Texas — The mask mandate has been lifted in Texas, but one restaurant owner is still requiring face coverings. Violators will face a hefty surcharge if they fail to comply.
The bright pink sign in front of the Legends Diner in Denton spells out the rules and does not mask the consequences, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“Our new surcharge,” the sign reads. “$50 if I have to explain why masks are mandatory. $75 if I have to hear why you disagree ...”
Co-owners Wayne and Kat LaCombe said the reaction to their sign has been mostly positive.
People laughing taking pictures of it,” Wayne LaCombe told WFAA. “Mostly great reactions.”
One comment was negative.
“He didn’t trust a restaurant owner-manager to give him medical advice,” Kat LaCombe told WFAA.
Kat LaCombe, a retired registered nurse 28 years in oncology, posted a long Facebook response, highlighted by the admonition, “some things must be done without someone telling you to.”
“I understand that they’re tired of this, but COVID’s not gone,” Kat LaCombe told WFAA.
“All we ask is that customers wear a mask as they walk past another person that is eating and not wearing a mask,” Kat LaCombe wrote on Facebook. “Sure doesn’t seem like a lot to ask ... but apparently it is. I, with my husband, try to protect and respect the people who come to our restaurant. The sign was a sort of joke. ... It was aimed at the people who feel the need to try to argue (and of course they’re not wearing masks at the time).”
Since Kat LaCombe makes “the best patty melt in town,” Wayne LaCombe said the risk of COVID-19 was too great, even after a customer meltdown.
“I just can’t afford to get the virus,” Wayne LaCombe, a 41-year resident of Denton, told The Dallas Morning News. “We’d have to shut our business down.”
The tongue-in-cheek sign has helped business sizzle at the restaurant.
“We had a record day yesterday. About 500 came into our restaurant,” Wayne LaCombe told the Chronicle. “I’m getting calls from all over the country. I got a call today from Virginia, saying ‘Thank you!’ We even got flowers. It’s awesome.”
The LaCombes got the idea to hang the “surcharge” sign after seeing a shop in Oregon post its own sign, the Morning News reported. Wayne LaCombe said people have been “lining up” to take photographs of their sign.
“Thank you for standing up for intelligence and science and the CDC,” Jerm Tzu wrote on Facebook.
“I LOVE your sign! I wish we lived down there--we’d be regulars for sure!! Thank you for being responsible,” Jan Hood said.
“Our business is 50-, 60-, 70-, 80-year-olds,” Wayne LaCombe told WFAA. “Unless we all work as a team, we’re not going to finish the race.”
So far, no one has been assessed the surcharges, Wayne LaCombe told the newspaper. But there have been some close calls.
“I had two ladies who just left; and I was getting ready to charge them,” LaCombe told the Morning News on Tuesday. “They came in wearing a mask; they had breakfast. ... When they came up to pay, they didn’t have their mask on and I had to explain to them why it was important.
“But no. I didn’t charge them.”
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