Defiant Calif. café owner charges customers with masks an extra fee

Fiddleheads Café in Mendocino, Cali

Those who think California is a place of sheeplike compliance with tyrannical leftist rules have got it wrong. California business owners are up in arms about the statewide attack on their lives that COVID-19 has enabled, and a Northern California restauranteur’s attitude is typical.

According to, customers at the Mendocino cafe were greeted at the door on May 24 by a sign declaring a new store policy:

“$5 FEE ADDED TO ORDERS PLACED WHILE WEARING A FACE MASK,” read the notice in the front window at Fiddlehead’s Cafe. Another sign with the same message was posted by the cash register.

Two additional notes just below the large print warned guests if they were heard “bragging” about their vaccines “an additional $5 fee” would be added to their check and the fees donated to local charities assisting domestic abuse victims.

Fiddlehead’s Cafe had previously posted a sign that went viral on social media. It read: “Get your free COVID-19 vaccine card here!” The sign has since been removed.

Cafe owner Chris Castleman said some people have paid the fee and there has been a surprising aversion to the money going to charity: “I’ve been told this whole time that wearing a mask is a small price to pay. Some people get shocked by the sign but to see them turn around and get disgusted … when they’re asked to pay $5 [for charity], it’s not in their wheelhouse. It’s not something they’re choosing to do.”

As of May 27, Fiddlehead Cafe’s business page had been temporarily disabled on Yelp. That hasn’t prevented neighboring restaurant Mendocino Cafe from getting unwanted attention, according to proprietor Meredith Smith.

“What’s happening is that we’re on the same corner,” Smith explained. “I get a lot of feedback directed at him. They think I’m him.”

Smith, whose eatery enforces mask use indoors, said she spoke with Castleman in April, when he announced that customers who threw their masks in the trash would receive a 50 perrcent discount. She said the talk was unproductive and that she hasn’t tried to engage with him since.


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