A California cafe owner is charging customers who wear a face mask an extra fee.
A poster on the window at Fiddlehead’s Cafe in Mendocino read, “$5 fee added to orders placed while wearing a face mask,” SFGate reported.
Other signs warned that customers “caught bragging” about their COVID-19 vaccines would get “an additional $5 fee” to their bill and that the money would be donated to “local charities assisting domestic abuse victims,” according to the publication.
Chris Castleman, owner of the cafe, told NBC Bay Area that the fee is an “optional donation” going to charity.
“Customers either love it or hate it,” said Castleman, according to the station. “There are people who refuse to pay it; I guess a $5 donation to charity is too much for them. Others have gladly paid it knowing that it goes to a good cause. I don’t force anyone to pay, I give them the freedom of choice, which seems to be a foreign concept in these parts of the country.”
Castleman shut down the cafe last year after he was fined for “pandemic safety violations,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Castleman told the publication that around 20 customers have paid the fee and around 20 have refused so far. He said he doesn’t believe in mandatory mask guidelines, because “people should be able to decide for themselves.”
The restaurant also incited controversy last month when Castleman offered 50% off orders for customers who threw their masks into the trash, McClatchy News previously reported.
A TikTok video showed a flyer posted on the window of the cafe, reading: “Throw your mask(s) in our trash bin and receive 50% off your order.”
Mendocino County is currently in the “yellow” tier of California’s COVID-19 reopening, meaning the county has “minimal” risk and most indoor businesses are open “with modifications.”
California has had more than 3.6 million coronavirus cases as of May 31, including 644 cases Monday, according to the California Department of Public Health.