We've got another one of these controversies in which a Bay Area restaurant has made it a policy not to serve armed and uniformed police officers, and the SF Police Union is again up in arms.
This dustup occurred last weekend at Reem's in the Mission, and, curiously, the restaurant temporarily closed to "regroup, recenter, and re-concept" the location the next day. As NBC Bay Area reports, following an annoyed tweet by the SF Police Officers Association, an employee at Reem's refused service to one or more police officers, saying that this was the restaurant's policy.
"NO COPS ALLOWED. That’s the confirmed policy of the bakery chain Reem’s," the SF POA tweeted — but Reem's, while partly a bakery serving fresh flatbreads, is also a restaurant serving Arab street food from chef Reem Assil.
"One of our officers was denied service last weekend because he was in uniform. Reem’s confirms that they will not serve anyone armed and in uniform. Presumably, this includes members of the US Military," the tweet continued.
Reem's confirmed their policy to the SF POA in an email obtained by NBC Bay Area, and they said that while non-uniformed, unarmed police were welcome to eat there, they had made it a policy not to serve armed and uniformed officers.
A similar dustup occurred when Hilda & Jesse in North Beach enacted a similar policy upon opening in 2021, saying that officers carrying weapons made staff uncomfortable.
Back in January, an employee at Pizza Squared in SoMa told uniformed officers they needed to leave, and that employee — a trainee with just four days on the job — was fired.
Reem's, which got its start in Oakland's Fruitvale District in 2016, opened the Mission location just three days before pandemic shelter-in-place orders came down in March 2020. (Assil writes about this in an intro to her cookbook published last year, which was excerpted by the Chronicle.)
Assil was the subject of major backlash after Reem's was named a Food & Wine best new restaurant in 2017, because of a mural she had in the Oakland space. It featured Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted by the Israeli government in 1970 in connection with a grocery store bombing in Jerusalem in 1969 that killed two people.
Assil, who is Syrian-Palestinian, is among those who doubt Odeh's guilt in that case — Odeh has also said she was extensively tortured by Israeli soldiers — and who admire Odeh for her women's rights activism in the U.S. But Odeh is still considered a terrorist by many in the Jewish community, which led to many angry Yelp reviews and backlash about the Food & Wine honor.
So, suffice it to say, Assil is no stranger to controversy.
The temporary closure of the restaurant may be entirely disconnected from the SF POA dustup, though perhaps the timing was influenced by that. Reem's has not given any official comment on the matter.
The Ferry Building outpost of Reem's remains open, and the Mission location posted to Instagram Thursday that they are still available for catering during their closure.
The SF POA tells NBC Bay Area that they want all restaurants with such policies about uniformed cops to clearly post them at the door.
Photo via Instagram