PRINCEVILLE — The decision to allow visitors to only order online and pick up while serving residents with a Hawai’i identification in person has created a lightning rod of controversy on social media for one Kaua’i food truck.
Saenz Ohana Breakfast in Princeville announced Oct. 14 on its Facebook page their intention to refuse to let tourists dine in their establishment.
“As we open back up to tourist-visitors, we are taking safety precautions and only allowing visitors to order online and pick up! Only residents with a local state ID will be allowed to order, and sit and eat!” the Facebook post states. “Our plan is to keep our area safe from travelers so the locals can have somewhere to feel safe eating and not crowded by visitors that may or may not be COVID positive! We also want to keep my family safe and stay open for everyone to be able to eat.”
Juan Saenz, the owner of the food truck, said he felt people are overreacting to his company’s request.
“People are blowing this out of proportion,” Saenz said. “We are just trying to keep our family and other customers safe.”
Saenz stated one of the reasons for his decision was the size of his seating. There is only a 10-foot by 20-foot shade cover, and two picnic tables outdoors, which they are reserving for customers who have not traveled or been in contact with someone who has traveled.
“Our choices are made for one thing only, and that is the safety for me and my family, and also to our customers that have followed a 14-day quarantine or have been here on Kaua’i and have not traveled,” Saenz said in a written statement. ” These are scary times, and a lot of people in Hawai’i are very unsure of how things will go after we have opened to travelers once again. We love our traveling customers, but we are just asking to take a few extra steps to ensure safety for everyone.”
On the portion of their sign that says: “attention travelers/visitors,” it states the visitors can only order online using a menu point application and make payments through Venmo.
The sign also states visitors must “wait in their vehicle until the order is complete, and a text will be sent to them when their order is ready to pick up.”
In another portion of the sign, “seating is CLOSED to visitors (non-residents), and picnic tables are reserved for Kaua’i residents only (we may ask for your ID to confirm).”
The Facebook announcement has generated a total of 69 user comments by mid-day Monday, and some claim there are certain comments on the post that were deleted, these allegations could not be confirmed.
One user applauded the decision of the establishment stating the decision was a “super-smart tactic! Looks like you’re already turning away the selfish, self-righteous people so local Ohana can eat safety, and the respectful, considerate visitors can still enjoy your ono food.”
Other Facebook users thought the move was discriminatory.
“How classist and discriminatory of you. This is so illegal. Glad I have never eaten here, and I know I will NEVER eat here. Also, your poor grammar alone is enough to turn me away from your business.”
Another supported Saenz’s stance.
“Saenz has the right idea,” the user stated on Facebook. “Thanks for having the CLASS to pull it off. See you soon for some great food and Aloha. Tourists. GO HOME…STAY HOME. PERIOD.”
The Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce couldn’t be reached for comment as of press time.