SAN ANTONIO -- A restaurant owner is speaking out after finding a troubling note he says was left by a customer. The note, written on a receipt, praises the food and service but says they won’t be coming back because "the owner is Mexican."
Fernando Franco, the owner of Di Frabo Ristorante Italiano, says a manager brought him the note Friday afternoon. It was written alongside a receipt next to a cash payment and tip. The note reads: “The food was tasty and the service was attentive. However, the owner is ‘Mexican,’ we will not return. ‘America first.’”
“I don’t know, I was surprised. Like… really?” Franco said.
He said that at the time he believes the note was left, he was giving instruction to some of his employees in Spanish.
But his employees didn’t know how a customer would have discovered that he was the owner or that he was Mexican.
“They said that nobody asked if I was the owner or where I was from or something,” Franco said. “Nobody knows exactly how they would have come up with this.”
Nor can he say for sure who wrote it. The bill was paid in cash, so there’s no name and no way to track down the customer.
But Franco said he can’t help but feel unwelcome for the first time in his four years in America.
“I don’t know but… it’s a feeling that you hear this every day in the news and you see what’s going on,” Franco said. “So at the end you start feeling that it’s affecting the people.”
Or, Franco admits, it could be a very bad joke. KENS 5 KSDK's sister station in San Antonio, has not been able to find the person or people who wrote the note, so there's no indication of motive.
For Franco, that’s irrelevant, because those words have the same effect either way.
“It’s always a little frustrating, a little disappointing, to feel that something is wrong,” he said.
If it was a customer who wrote the letter, Franco said he would gladly welcome them back into the restaurant.
As for the receipt, he said he plans to frame it as a reminder of what he sees as the changing discourse in this country.