California Cafe Charges Patrons $5 for Wearing Masks: ‘It’s Their Choice’

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    On Sunday, Fiddleheads Cafe in Mendocino put up a sign stating the fee for those who wear a mask while ordering, NBC News reported Friday.

    In March, the establishment announced a 50 percent discount for people who threw their masks in the garbage, according to owner Chris Castleman.

    “I don't think $5 to charity is too much to ask from mask wearing customers who claim to care so much about the community they live in,” he told the outlet in an email.

    The proceeds will be given to Project Sanctuary, a domestic abuse organization, for two weeks before another nonprofit is put into the rotation, according to Castleman.

    “It's about time that the proponents of these ineffective government measures start paying for the collateral damage they have collectively caused,” the owner continued.

    The eatery also reportedly planned to charge an additional $5 for those “caught bragging” about receiving the vaccine, some of the posted signs read.

    According to NBC Bay Area, Castleman said a few people paid the $5 fee while others were shocked and angered.

    “Customers either love it or hate it,” he told the outlet in an email:

    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.

    In June, Castleman temporarily closed the business once Mendocino County officials warned masks were not optional at restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

    He abided by the temporary mandates regarding curbside service, but requiring masks for servers and other employees, he argued, was over the top.

    “I don't believe in mask-wearing,” Castleman explained. “Our customer base has been strongly aligned with our beliefs, but I think some are really angry at our cafe.”

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