The owner of a retro-style diner in Northwest Philadelphia says his business has been unfairly targeted on social media after an allegation that one of his employees assaulted a Donald Trump supporter.
The morning after Election Day, a woman decked out in Trump gear claimed a waitress at Trolley Car Diner in Mount Airy confronted her and yelled at her. When the customer returned the next day, the employee got physical, the woman claimed.
“I was chatting on the phone with a friend, and a waitress started staring at me and giving me really dirty looks, and then she started yelling at me. [Saying] I was disgusting, get out, I’m so ignorant,” the woman, who refused to give her name, told 6ABC.
But diner owner Ken Weinstein said the incident didn’t play out that way.
“[The employee] said, “Good thing you’re not in my section,” he told Metro.
The customer went to a manager, who apologized for the incident, and then she left. Weinstein said he later had a discussion with his employee, who “agreed she was wrong and felt bad about it,” he said.
It was unclear whether the woman reported the incident to police.
Weinstein said he thought the issue was settled, until the woman came back into the restaurant Wednesday without the Trump attire. She claimed the same waitress “checked,” or jabbed her.
Weinstein said that didn’t happen, either. According to the owner, the customer was seated in the front of the restaurant while the server worked in the back. Not long after entering the establishment, the customer walked over to the employee – who was waiting on a table – and stood right behind her.
“The server spins around and makes contact with the customer,” Weinstein said, adding that his employee said “excuse me” when they knocked into each other.
About half an hour later,Jack Posobiec, special projects director of Citizens for Trump shared the woman’s story on Twitter Wednesday to his 46,000 followers, claiming the victim is a friend. He also tweeted the diner’s phone number, which was retweeted more than 600 times.
My friend just got assaulted by an employee at @TrolleyCarDiner for being a Trump supporter. Why would they do this to her? (215) 753-1500
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) November 16, 2016
Weinstein responded to Posobiec using the diner’s Twitter account, saying he was aware of the incident and looking into it.
@JackPosobiec Hi Jack, Management is aware and concerned about this incident. We are looking into it further and will address it asap
— Trolley Car Diner (@TrolleyCarDiner) November 16, 2016
That did not satisfy the storm of Trump supporters who lashed out forced Weinstein to shut down the diner’s Facebook page and temporarily disconnect its phone number.
Weinstein said he thinks the incident was a “set-up.”
“Clearly [the customer] came in looking for something,” he said. “It didn’t even take half-an-hour for her to contact a friend with 60,000 followers.”
Weinstein said after the second incident, the customer emailed him, and he apologized. Shortly thereafter, Posobiec’s tweet was fired off, and Trump fans took to Twitter, Facebook and Yelp, which crowd-sources reviews of restaurants and other businesses.
Weinstein said he has received death threats and promises to burn down the diner.
On Twitter, one user directed his anger at Weinstein and his employee, saying, “you had better fire the criminal, you don’t want us to ruin your business. We will meme you out of existence.” Another user shared avideo of himselfreading the diner’s phone number and calling on Trolley Car to fire the waitress involved in the alleged assault.
Yelp users shared their thoughts, too, offering one-star reviews, and exclaiming they would boycott the business. Yelp has since advised visitors to the website that the diner’s page could be subject to fake reviews.
Trolley Car also shared screenshots of messages to their Facebook page before disconnecting it, and tweets they flagged offensive.
One Twitter user wrote “‘Weinstein,’ eh? Interesting name. Very oven-worthy.”
On Facebook, a user commented “Are you going to fire the p—- who assaulted one of your customers or just going to act like assault is OK for your employees? Now its ok for peaceful leftists to attack women?? I hope your business goes down in flames!!!”
Weinstein said there are no plans to fire the employee involved in the incident, and thinks the company did its due diligence in issuing multiple apologies.
Trolley Car Diner opened Thursday, business as usual. Still, Weinstein’s been in contact with the Philadelphia police after a “deluge” of threats.
“It’s … pierced our little bubble here in Mount Airy to have this much hate thrown at us,” he said. “We’ve lost a lot of the peace, love and understanding we used to have in our country.”
“We’re running a community restaurant here,” he added. “We’re in the business of serving good food and friendly service. We’re not political.”