An ugly, racially charged incident in Palo Alto has caught the attention of the community and its leaders. On August 1st, a man in his 50s went on a tirade at Fuki Sushi on El Camino Real when his server informed him that the Japanese restaurant wasn’t accepting cash because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a Facebook post, the man got angry and told the server “this is un-American, it’s illegal for you to not accept cash.” The terrified server immediately got the attention of the restaurant owner. In an attempt to calm the situation, the owner told the man she would accept his cash but then she says the man got angrier.
“I don’t understand you,” he said referring to her mask. “You are un-American. Where were you born? Where did you even go to school? Did you even go to school here? You are not American. Go back to your country. You don’t belong here, We don’t want you here,” the man said.
Fuki Sushi owner and Palo Alto Native Lumi Gardner spoke to Palo Alto Online. "I'm like, 'What?!' I don't want to justify that question with an answer. To have somebody say that to you is one thing; to have somebody scream at you is something else. I tried to record the entire ordeal out of fear that he would become violent, but my entire body was shaking from shock, fear, and anger. He eventually paid with cash and stormed out of the building," Gardner said.
But it wasn’t over. According to the Facebook post, Gardner went outside to make sure he was actually leaving and that’s when the man drove up to her. “He took out his phone and recorded me while he continued to yell and scream at me about how he was going to sue me, wisely choosing to not express his racist beliefs while on camera," the post says.
Mayor Tom DuBois says the city of Palo Alto is taking the incident very seriously. Vice Mayor Pat Burt apparently visited the restaurant after the incident in a show of support. "Fuki Sushi is a third-generation restaurant. It's a treasured institution," Burt told Palo Alto Online.
Councilman Greg Tanaka was also upset over what happened. “It’s, unfortunately, something that’s still, even in Palo Alto, very prevalent. Some people would say it’s crazy this would happen in our city. You’d think that we’re past that since we’re such a liberal city. But I think there’s a lot of hidden racism,” Tanaka told Mercury News.
Palo Alto police are investigating. Gardner tells Mercury News that officers are patrolling the restaurant because she received a threatening phone call after news stories about the incident were published. So far, police have not released any information about the man in question.