On Friday, the new brunch restaurant Hilda and Jesse in North Beach asked three uniformed, armed SF police officers to leave the establishment shortly after they were seated; employees were cited as being "uncomfortable with the presence of their multiple weapons."
The new North Beach eatery took to Instagram Saturday, sharing that before the weekend, staff at Hilda and Jesse denied service to three SFPD officers after feeling uneasy in the presence of their weapons. Hilda and Jesse initially stood behind its decision.
"At Hilda and Jesse, the restaurant is a safe space," reads the post. "The presence of the [officers'] weapons made us feel uncomfortable."
Opened on November 1, the fresh North Beach restaurant — which has become a popular brunch touchstone since debuting; its fluffy, thick pancakes drizzled with a cranberry maple syrup have become something of gastronomic folklore — said the decision wasn’t a political statement. And the restaurant did "what we thought was best for our staff."
"We respect the San Francisco Police Department and are grateful for the work they do,” the post continues. “We welcome them into the restaurant when they are off duty, out of uniform, and without their weapons."
(1/3) Community engagement is a core principle of SFPD’s 21st century police reforms, and we are intentional about asking our officers to support local businesses and get to know those they’re sworn to safeguard. https://t.co/nJsk4hy0tB— SFPD Chief Scott (@SFPDChief) December 5, 2021
Saturday evening, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott wrote a response on Twitter sharing the department's thoughts on Hilda and Jesse's decision.
"Community engagement is a core principle of SFPD’s 21st-century police reforms, and we are intentional about asking our officers to support local businesses and get to know those they’re sworn to safeguard," reads the first tweet in a series of three. "The San Francisco Police Department stands for safety with respect, even when it means respecting wishes that our officers and I find discouraging and personally disappointing."
(3/3) I believe the vast majority of San Franciscans welcome their police officers, who deserve to know that they are appreciated for the difficult job we ask them to do — in their uniforms — to keep our neighborhoods and businesses safe.— SFPD Chief Scott (@SFPDChief) December 5, 2021
Scott capped his thoughts on the controversial decision by asserting that he believes the "vast majority of San Franciscans welcome their police officers, who deserve to know that they are appreciated for the difficult job we ask them to do — in their uniforms — to keep our neighborhoods and businesses safe."
The decision by Hilda and Jesse also appears to have tanked online ratings of the restaurant. Presently, the restaurant sits at a 1.4-star rating on Google reviews after a slew of negative one-star ratings were placed over the weekend; at least 400 reviews have since been left on Yelp — dragging the eatery's rating down to one star.
Update: On Sunday, Hilda and Jesse owners Rachel Sillcocks and Kristina Liedags Compton issued an apology on Instagram, saying, "We made a mistake and apologize for the unfortunate incident Friday... We are grateful to all members of the force who work hard to keep us safe, especially during these challenging times. We hope this will be a teachable moment for us as we repair and continue to build bridges with the SFPD. These are stressful times, and we handled this badly."
Photo: Courtesy of Instagram via @hildaandjessesf