The owner of a sushi restaurant in northeast Fresno is facing backlash for a post on Facebook that he’s calling an “off-color joke.”
Steve Wayte created the post Friday night on his personal Facebook page after his staff at Roll One For Mi complained about Hispanic patrons who did not leave a tip.
“My servers are thinking about building a wall around the restaurant,” the post says. “Why don’t many Hispanics tip?”
The post, which has since been deleted, gained attention when former Fresno County Supervisor and Fresno mayoral candidate Henry R. Perea shared a screenshot of the post and asked his friends and followers to build an “economic wall” around the eatery.
Wayte on Sunday afternoon said he had no malice in his heart when he made the post. He said he was defending his staff. He also apologized for the post.
My servers are thinking about building a wall around the restaurant. Why don’t many Hispanics tip?
Roll One for Mi sushi restaurant owner Steve Wayte in a since-deleted Facebook post
Wayte said he questions Perea’s motive for sharing the post, describing it as a full-on assault against him and his restaurant.
Perea said Sunday afternoon in a telephone interview, “There’s no question that on a personal level it upset me.”
Wayte said he created the post after Friday evening’s dinner service when he was told that four tables did not leave a tip, including one with a $120 tab. The patrons at each of the four tables were Hispanic, he said.
“I’m not even a Trump supporter,” said Wayte, referring to President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the United States-Mexico border.
“I’m a smart aleck and I like to be provocative, and apparently I was a little too provocative for Mr. Perea,” Wayte said.
Chef supports his boss
Chef Carlos Rucker has worked at the restaurant for three months and said as a first-generation Mexican American, he was not offended by the post. He said there were actually some underlying truths in the post. “Being Hispanic, I know that it’s a fact … that some Hispanics are very bad at tipping,” he said. “It might be a cultural thing.”
Rucker said staff was not initially aware that Wayte made the post, but they just laughed it off because he has a big personality. Rucker said he believes Wayte has a good heart and had no ill intention when making the post other than to bring attention to how not tipping hurts servers’ incomes.
Wayte said Sunday afternoon that while there have been negative comments on Facebook and Yelp, Roll One for Mi has not seen a decline in business. He also said Perea doesn’t follow the restaurant’s Facebook page and Wayte questioned why Perea would share the post.
Wayte wondered why Perea would call him out: “He’s trying to economically damage me, and I’ve done nothing to Henry Perea.”
Perea speaks out
Perea said he didn’t have to try to damage Wayte’s reputation: “I think he did that all by himself.”
Perea said he wonders what kind of businessman would post something like what Wayte posted, when the central San Joaquin Valley is majority Hispanic. Perea said he shared the post because he saw it as part of a growing sense of nationalism and divisiveness that he’s seen in the past year.
Wayte said, “He could have called, he could have private messaged me. I hope the publicity backfires and he gets people to come in.”