Castleski / ShutterstockA stock image of a sign on a restaurant window reading “Sorry, we’re closed” is pictured above. (Castleski / Shutterstock)
A restaurant that stirred controversy months ago with an anti-China sign is in the news again for defying a governor’s order, a decision that could put the entire business in jeopardy.
New Mexico Environment Department spokesperson Maddy Hayden confirmed on July 23 that the state had suspended the food service permit of Country Family Restaurant in Kirtland, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
The suspension was handed down after the restaurant refused to abide by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s health order banning indoor dining to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Country Family Restaurant joins eight other establishments statewide that have been effectively shuttered after having permits suspended following similar defiance.
Steve Jackson, the owner of Country Family Restaurant, claimed that he has been taking all the necessary precautions to guard against coronavirus.
Jackson also maintained that the state has not conclusively shown that indoor dining would lead to a spike in infections.
Regardless, the livelihoods of the owner and his 30 employees are now in jeopardy after the restaurant lost the vital permit. As the establishment now faces the monumental task of bringing in revenue without the permit, bills are continuing to mount.
The loss of the food service permit is only the latest blow for Country Family Restaurant. In March, the eatery stirred major controversy after posting an anti-China sign that was interpreted as a racist message.
Jackson’s original sign read “CLOSED you can thank CHINA,” as the first wave of coronavirus cases was sweeping America.
Was the state right to suspend the Country Family Restaurant’s food service permit?
According to the Daily Times, it wasn’t long before the owner was on the defensive.
A few days after the sign was posted, the Navajo Post, a paper from the nearby Navajo Nation, ran an article on the poster.
News of the sign spread, and accusations of racism and “microaggressions” soon began to roll in. Some of those aligning themselves against the restaurant even floated a boycott.
Jackson said the message was not racist but posted out of frustration after the virus leaped from China and forced difficult change on many American businesses.
“I stuck up that little-bitty sign that explained my thoughts about the communist Chinese government and the way they treat their people,” Jackson said in March. “It was just a little-bitty sign, and I didn’t think anything of it.”
Although Jackson largely blames the Chinese Communist Party for the virus, he said that he thinks it is a naturally occurring pathogen, not a man-made superbug.
The suspension of the restaurant seemingly renders any potential boycott moot, but that doesn’t mean the business and its employees are out of the woods yet.
With the $600 federal boost to unemployment looking likely to end soon and the future of the restaurant’s permit in question, Jackson isn’t done dealing with the fallout from China’s deadly mistakes by any stretch.
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