A restaurantgoer says he was banned from a Burnsville restaurant for being a supporter of President Donald Trump, but the restaurant claims it's actually because he has been an "extremely difficult guest" over the past few years.
Greg Aberle spoke with Alpha News, a conservative website, about how Porter Creek Hardwood Grill in Burnsville banned him because he supports Trump and was wearing a MAGA (make America great again) hat, noting that he's gone to the restaurant 2-3 times per week for nine years, bringing the restaurant about $90,000 of business.
He also wrote a one-star review on the restaurant's TripAdvisor page about the incident, which apparently happened in June, saying a Porter Creek manager pulled him aside "some time ago" and made it clear restaurant management doesn't like Trump. When Aberle pushed back about the comment, the manager said he could have him kicked out whenever he wanted.
Aberle said in the review that he kept wearing the Trump hat on later visits and a few weeks ago, management "got in my face" for an 8-minute "unprofessional argument" that others could hear. Aberle then wrote a letter of complaint to John Sheehan, part-owner of the restaurant, about what happened, who responded saying it would be best that he never come back to the restaurant.
Restaurant calls him an 'extremely difficult guest'
Hours after the Alpha News story was published on July 9, Porter Creek Hardwood Grill took to its Facebook page to deny Aberle's accusations, saying he was banned "for his actions and behavior in the restaurant over a period of years, which resulted in several conversations and subsequent warnings."
"While we have appreciated his patronage over the years, there has been a clear stress on the restaurant due to his presence," the post, signed by Sheehan, said. "When asked recently, our staff and management felt Mr. Aberle was an extremely difficult guest that affected their work life and the dining experience of guests in our restaurant, and most felt he should not be welcomed back."
The restaurant said Aberle has "frequently been disruptive," including by not wearing shoes in the restaurant or restroom; bringing in food from other restaurants or from home; repeatedly demonstrating behaviors that don't respect other guests' space or COVID-19 safety policies; and attempting to bend the rules in his favor at the expense of other guests.
The post did say the restaurant company is not political in "any shape and guests of all political views are welcome."
In a second Facebook post on July 9, the restaurant stressed that people can wear any hat or political attire they desire to the restaurant, so long as it is respectful.
Lawyers get involved
In the days following the Alpha News story and Facebook posts, lawyers have apparently gotten involved, according to Aberle's Facebook page.
In separate Facebook posts, he shared the text of letters he says he has sent and received. The first is the text of a letter he said he sent to Porter Creek Hardwood Grill's corporate office in August 2019 about the manager's anti-Trump remarks and threats to have him removed.
Then, he says Porter Creek's attorney sent him a letter on July 10 threatening to sue for defamation if he didn't issue a retraction. A third letter was his attorney's apparent response to the restaurant's letter, which says "Sufficed to say, my client disagrees with that outline and objects to your client’s attempts to hijack the actual facts."
BMTN has reached out to the restaurant for further comment.