by Kevin Dicciani
The Trolley Car Diner is facing a social media backlash after a customer alleged that a waitress assaulted her for being a supporter of President-elect Donald Trump.
The woman, who spoke anonymously with FOX29 out of fear of retaliation, said that she was eating in the restaurant the morning after the election when a waitress made a comment to her about her “Make America Great Again” hat.
According to the woman, the waitress allegedly called her “disgusting” before saying, “It’s a good thing I’m not waiting on you. You’re so ignorant.”
Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner, told the Local that the waitress did say something to the woman, but disputed the woman’s claims that the waitress called her “disgusting” or “ignorant.” He said numerous eyewitnesses, including a member of the clergy who saw the incident and posted publicly on Facebook, said the waitress did not make the comments the woman claimed were said to her.
“The server said to her, ‘Good thing you’re not in my section,’ and that’s an exact quote, and nothing more,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein said he reprimanded the server, who admitted she was out of line.
“The server knew she was wrong,” Weinstein said. “In a personnel way, the incident was dealt with.”
The following week, on Wednesday, the woman said she returned to the diner, absent of any Trump attire, only to be confronted by the same waitress again. The woman, who Weinstein described as an “occasional customer,” claimed that when she got up from her table to go the restroom and walked out into the hallway, the waitress assaulted her.
“She’s standing in a corridor and knocks into me. Then checks me with her shoulder,” the woman said.
Although there were no cameras to capture the incident, Weinstein said that, rather than a deliberate assault, he believes the incident was an accident.
“At one point the customer got up to go the bathroom, stood right behind the server while she was helping someone at a table, and when the server turned around to go place the order in the computer, she ran into the customer and said, ‘Excuse me,’” Weinstein said. “The customer immediately ran up to the general manager, said she was physically abused, and ran out of the diner.”
Weinstein said later that day that the woman emailed him, and he emailed her right back with an apology. The woman then shared the incident with a friend of hers, a special projects director for Citizens for Trump, who then tweeted the story to the organization’s 60,000 Twitter followers.
Citizens for Trump was reached for comment, but no response had been received by press time.
Shortly thereafter, Weinstein said the diner became inundated with phone calls, Facebook messages, tweets, negative Yelp reviews and calls to the Health Department. He said the messages were “racist, anti-Semitic and threatening.” They were so abusive, he said, that he shut down the diner’s Facebook page and instructed his employees to not answer the phone.
Weinstein said his initial reaction to the response from social media was “sadness.”
“It’s sad that our country is so divided right now that misinformation can go out over social media and the whole thing can be blown out of proportion,” he said.
Despite thousands of phone calls, posts and tweets, Weinstein said that as of Friday, Nov. 18, “not a single person has come in to personally complain.”
The woman said she was not going to file assault charges against the waitress. She added that she did not want the waitress to lose her job, and that she only wanted to be able to express her views without being harassed.
“I don’t want anyone to lose their job but I also don’t want people to be discriminated against,” the woman said.
From this point forward, Weinstein said that he and his employees are eager to get back to business as usual.
“We at the Trolley Car Diner continue to welcome anybody into the diner and that won’t change,” Weinstein said. “We’ve been through adversity before and we’ll get through this again.”
Kevin Dicciani can be reached at 215-248-8819 or Kevin@chestnuthilllocal.com.