California cafe owner charges patrons $ 5 for wearing masks

Diners are usually free to express themselves at a Northern California cafe, but doing so within the protective confines of a mask will cost $ 5.

Mendocino’s Fiddlehead’s Cafe set up a sign on Sunday announcing fees for customers who wear masks when ordering. In March, the cafe announced an ongoing 50% reduction for those who throw their masks in the trash, owner Chris Castleman, 34, said.

“I don’t think that $ 5 to a charity is too much to ask of customers wearing masks who claim to care so much about the community they live in,” he said via email.

Profits will go to Project Sanctuary, a local domestic violence organization, for two weeks before a new nonprofit enters the rotation, Castleman said. (Project Sanctuary did not immediately respond to a request for comment).

“It is high time that the supporters of these ineffective government measures start paying for the collateral damage they have collectively caused,” said the owner.

Fiddleheads Cafe in Mendocino not only discourages wearing masks, but also imposes a penalty.Courtesy of Chris Castleman

The restaurant also planned to charge an additional $ 5 fee for those who bragged about being vaccinated, according to a few posted signs.

But Castleman said in a phone interview, “I’m not forcing anyone to pay, I’m giving them freedom of choice, which seems like an alien concept in these parts of the country.”

In June 2020, Castleman temporarily closed the cafe 200 miles northwest of Sacramento after Mendocino County officials warned masks were not optional in restaurants during the pandemic.

“The government has closed everything,” he said on Friday. “Everyone wearing a mask is an accomplice.”

He has honored temporary mandates requiring only curbside service, but demanding masks for waiters and other workers, he argued, is too much.

“I don’t believe in wearing a mask,” Castleman said. “Our clientele has been strongly aligned with our beliefs, but I think some are really angry with our coffee.”

“It’s their choice,” he continued, “they can choose which business they support. They can go to any other business in my riding, in my state.”

Dennis Romero contributed.

About Walter Bartholomew

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