In deep-blue San Francisco, a city where President Trump netted only 9.78 percent of the vote, it can be a shock to discover that your neighbor supports the reality-TV star turned populist firebrand—particularly when he's publicly doing so inside his small business.
But at Outer Sunset sushi spot Taraval Okazu Ya, a chef did exactly that via his daily specials board, where he displayed Trump's "Make America Great Again" motto.
Fed up with what he saw as eight years of over-regulation under Barack Obama, and fearing a perpetuation of the status quo with Hillary Clinton, the chef (who requested anonymity for this story) decided to cast his vote for Trump in November.
It was the only alternative, he said, to “seeing a Democratic party [lead] this country without boundary, without limitation.”
“I write on the board because I want people to judge,” he said, noting that he would have shared messages in the event of Clinton's victory as well.
Predictably, the sign's support of the president drew some backlash from local customers.
"It’s out of place for any restaurant to spread politics,” wrote Yelper George K., "and even less appropriate for this kind of message here in liberal San Francisco. Made me uncomfortable.”
“They make it obvious that they are Trump supporters," noted Yelper Monica L., who said that while her meal was excellent, she couldn't get over the sign. “It was uncomfortable and just awkward."
But wary customers might be intrigued to learn that the chef is regretting his decision to elect Trump to office.
The president, he said, is an "unpredictable person, because he doesn’t know what he wants."
“He’s so stupid,” he said. “He’s scary.”
The chef, a Chinese-Japanese immigrant, has held American citizenship for 37 years, but the president's recent executive orders have set him on edge.
“They are good people,” he said of foreigners looking for work in the U.S. “Why do we send them away? They contribute a lot to this country. Donald Trump is harming people."
Heaviest on his mind is the threat of government surveillance, from the local to the federal level, which he refers to as “Donald Trump’s invisible power.”
“One city employee not happy, one supervisor unhappy, we’re done,” he said. “We’re a little tiny potato. We can’t compete with the big guy.”
As a result, the specials board has become more neutral. Its header most recently read “April Fool’s Day."
Asked if he would vote again for Trump, the chef was clear: “No, definitely not.”
Will he share this sentiment with customers?
He's planning to wait "until tax reform," which he expects to fail, just as the new health care bill did.
"[Trump's] a businessman," he said. "If there's no opportunity for him, he won't make it."
Taraval Okazu Ya is open daily, 11:30am-10pm.
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