Diner charging patrons $50 if staff has to explain mask rules

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Anyone who enters this Texas restaurant without a mask will be served a hefty surcharge.

Legends Diner in Denton is charging $50 to anyone who asks about its continued mask requirements despite Texas lifing its statewide mandate earlier this month.

In a sign posted to the door of the diner, the management of Legends outlines its new policy thusly: “$50 if I have to explain why masks are mandatory, $75 if I have to hear why you disagree…”

Wayne and Kat LaCombe, the owners of Legends, told Dallas Morning News that the policy is mostly tongue-in-cheek, but will be enforced if need be. Ideally, it’s designed to remind customers to be mindful of the staff’s health and safety, especially after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded the statewide mask mandate as of March 10.

“I just can’t afford to get the virus. We’d have to shut our business down,”  said Wayne LaCombe, 41.

LaCombe and his wife, Kat, a retired nurse, told the Dallas Morning News they planned to get vaccinated, and are enforcing the strict mask-wearing policy for diners, with many of its customers over 60. While the duo haven’t yet charged noncompliant customers, LaCombe told the newspaper he came close when two guests got up to pay without a mask. 

“They came in wearing a mask; they had breakfast. … When they came up to pay, they didn’t have their mask on and I had to explain to them why it was important,” LaCombe said. 

Texas lifted its mask-wearing mandate on March 10, however, a slew of businesses have decided to continue requiring them to curb the spread of the virus. Chains like McDonald’sWhataburger and grocery store Kroger, among others, have continued enforcing mask-wearing. 

The Texas Restaurant Association in early March conducted a survey asking restaurant owners and chefs how’d they respond to the eased restrictions, and 73.1% of the 725 Texas Restaurant Association members surveyed said they would continue requiring staff to wear masks and face coverings after March 10.

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