STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — Hugo’s Tacos has reopened its Studio City location after closing for two weeks because angry customers were harassing employees over having to wear face coverings for service.
“As the business was picking up, so were the really vitriolic and emotional conflicts with people — calling people names, mocking language, physical threats sometimes,” Bill Khone, Hugo’s Tacos chief executive officer, said. “They actually threw a glass of water through a window at one of the employees.”
Khone said that was when he knew he had to do something, closing the Studio City location June 27 and the Atwater Village location one day later.
“It’s a tribal symbol. It’s become political. It’s become a symbol of allegiance,” Khone said. “A mask is not a symbol of anything other than trying to take care of your community.”
Khone said he added acrylic sheeting to the window screens, installed additional security cameras, beefed up curbside service, and hired someone to stand in front and make sure customers have a mask on before they get to the window.
“At first I thought we might be able to do it with one of our people, but things were getting heated that last week,” Khone said. “We needed to find a real security guard, somebody in uniform.”
Roy Okada, who has been coming to the restaurant for years, said he was disappointed the stand closed down but understood because he himself witnessed a hostile customer.
“I don’t understand, it’s such a simple thing to do,” said Okada. “I do know one guy, he refused to wear the mask. I couldn’t believe the guy. I said ‘Just put the mask on.’ He wouldn’t do it.”
Khone said, so far, things have been peaceful but even Wednesday, one customer bypassed security without a face covering and was eventually served curbside.
While the Studio City location is up and running, the Atwater Village location is set to open Monday.