Earlier this week, the cafe garnered media attention after owner Robert Warner posted a handwritten note on the door, which read, “If you voted for Trump you cannot eat here! No Nazis.” On Wednesday, he removed the sign, insisting that it was all in good fun.
“If somebody came in and said, ‘Hey, I know you can’t tell who I voted for, but I voted for Trump, would you let me eat?’ I would say, ‘Sure, if you’re nice with me and I’m nice with you and you like my food, sit down, no problem,” Warner told Fox News.
Regulars seemed to understand that the ban was not to be taken seriously, with Honolulu tech guru Ryan Ozawa saying that 8 1/2 has always “been provocative and cranky and cheeky” and adding that Warner has “a sharp edge, but his wife offsets a lot of it. She’s sweet.”
Warner’s wife, Jali, also downplayed the sign that many found offensive, saying, “Robert just wants to express how much he doesn’t like Trump.” She insisted that they didn’t actually ask any customers who they voted for before serving them and that even if someone were to walk in wearing a Trump shirt, “we don’t put anything different [in] your food.”
The Warners say business has flourished since the sign was posted given that Hawaii is an overwhelmingly blue state. However, not everyone has taken kindly to it. Beth Chapman of CMT’s “Dog and Beth on the Hunt,” for instance, was less than amused to hear about the supposed ban on Trump voters.
“I live in Hawaii and I voted for Donald Trump for President. I would never refuse service to someone based on whom they had supported in an election,” she said. “It’s totally unacceptable for anyone to breed such hate in the ‘Aloha State.'”