Yaks Cafe is a Utah restaurant garnering national attention after its anti-mask policy went viral on social media.
The Blanding breakfast joint advertises itself as a no-mask establishment, despite public health officials warning otherwise, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The restaurant currently bans the indoor use of masks and gloves, the newspaper reported.
Since March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advocated for indoor mask use as an effective way to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Yaks Cafe owners, on the other hand, are claiming that bringing outdoor masks into the restaurant pose a greater risk than not wearing them at all, The Salt Lake Tribune continued.
Photos of “No Masks” signs plastered across the storefront have recently made the rounds on social media, invoking a mixed-bag of responses.
“The owners have argued, when customers come inside a restaurant wearing masks and then take them off to eat, they risk leaving more pathogens on the table surface than if they’d entered the restaurant unmasked,” the Tribune reported.
Not only has Yaks doubled down on its stance in recent months, but it has also attempted to profit off of it, the newspaper disclosed.
The Salt Lake Tribune described the southeastern eatery as a “purveyor of anti-mask merchandise,” selling limited sale t-shirts with the phrase “It’s a Yaks Cafe thing” on the front and “No mask” on the back.
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases throughout the state continue to shatter records.
As of October 27, Utah tallied a total of 107,228 confirmed cases and more than 500 deaths, according to public state health data. The Salt Lake Tribune added that intensive care units may reach capacity within two weeks, forcing hospitals to “begin rationing care.”
Heavy has attempted to contact the restaurant and is awaiting a response. It’s website has since been deactivated following its recent publicity.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Yaks Encourages Customers Uncomfortable With the Policy to Use Their Outdoor to-Go Window
The Salt Lake Tribune highlighted a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page, which is now private, that encourages customers who are uncomfortable with the mask policy to use their outdoor to-go window.
“Just a reminder Yaks Cafe takes pride in keeping a clean and sanitary environment for all of our employees and customers,” the July post read, the newspaper reported. “[I]n efforts to do this we do not allow any outside food, masks and gloves to be worn or brought inside our cafe.”
Signs decorating the Cafe’s exterior indicate that the restaurant does not provide masks either, according to photos taken by the Tribune.
“No masks! No! No Gloves! No! Are allowed inside the cafe! We do not provide them either,” one sign reads.
2. The Restaurant’s Mask Policy Has Received a Mixed-Bag of Responses
While many on social media were quick to condemn the restaurant’s no-mask policy, others offered an outpour of support.
A handful of critics took to Twitter to cite their concerns over safety hazards posed by the Yaks ban, including calls for the restaurant to be shut down.
“Yaks Cafe in Utah should be shut down, immediately!!!!” one user wrote.
Another poked fun at the cafe’s name, tweeting “I just feel like I expected this from a restaurant called Yaks Cafe, with no apostrophe in Yaks.”
Meanwhile, the Tribune reported that some Yaks customers welcomed the initiative. The newspaper noted a handwritten card thanking the owners for their policy.
“[Thanks] for standing by your values,” the note, which was posted to the cafe’s Facebook, reads, “and making people feel like there are still places in America where the Constitution is still believed and small town USA is still alive!”
One person tweeted how they trusted the restaurant to “not get me sick.”
3. The Cafe Is Located in San Juan County, Where Coronavirus Transmission Levels Are ‘High’
Google lists the restaurant as located in San Juan County, Utah.
The county is considered to have a “high level of transmission” for the coronavirus, according to public state health data. Although the area requires masks, it allows for social gathers of 10 people or fewer, the guidelines established by the county’s health department continue.
“While health authorities cannot enforce coronavirus prevention measures under state guidelines, business owners who have been found to violate state rules can reportedly be charged by a district or county attorney with a class B misdemeanor on the first offense, which could include a fine of up to $1,850 and a maximum of six months in jail,” the Salt Lake Tribune added.
4. The Cafe Was Established in 2006
The restaurant serves breakfast all day long, advertising the “largest portions in town,” Yelp continues.
It also promotes an exclusive Bears Ears National Monument product line, featuring “authentic” souvenirs relating to the San Juan County national monument.
“Each item is designed locally. Each bear is hand-crafted and as such, is 100% unique,” the restaurant states on Yelp. “Even our t-shirts were printed right here , next Door to Shash Jaa’ We love the land where we live. Now you can take a piece of it home with you.”
5. The Cafe Was Named After a ‘Trucker,’ According to Yelp
The “About the Owner” section on Yelp cites a Tamy Jamarillo as the cafe’s owner. Utah public records confirm this information, listing the business as “current” and “active.”
Jamarillo on Yelp says the inspiration behind the cafe’s name stems from a “trucker.”
“The business was named after a Trucker that all he did was Yak on the CB,” Yelp reads.
“Tamy’s goal was to rebuild the business to the level it was during it’s Hay Day,” the page continues.