Opinion: Rae’s Café and the contagious threat it poses to KC

Rae’s Café is officially closed via a Jackson County judge’s order made this past Thursday. (Robert A. Cronkleton/Kansas City Star)

Cristian Martinez

As a “cheesemonger” for the Better Cheddar, a local cheese shop on the Country Club Plaza, getting to meet customers is a staple of my position. During a normal work day, about one of every three customers break the store’s mask policy — these are often the usual suspects like the half-ass mask wearer and those who “forget” that customers must use masks.  

Sometimes, though, there are customers looking to escalate. I can remember seeing a particular customer who barged in without a face covering recently. He looked around menacingly, prepared to start an argument. Out of false hope, I patiently waited. I thought to myself, “maybe he will put it on.” He never did. 

Out of courtesy, I informed him that all customers must wear a mask to be in the shop. His thick Australian accent echoed around the store as he stated that the cloth over people’s mouths and noses was useless and that the customers using masks were sheep. I had no choice but to kick him out. 

Like this customer, millions of people around the world continue the dangerous discussion of opposing mask mandates and vaccinations. However, a local business in Blue Springs has made headlines for its combative approach towards the Jackson County mask mandate

Prior to the pandemic, Rae’s Café was just a low-key diner that served breakfast, lunch and dinner. Owner Amanda Wohletz opened the cafe in 2017, and it wasn’t until recently that the restaurant began garnering more attention.

“Rae’s Café is not honoring the mask mandate and does not require staff to either,” Wohletz said during the COVID-19 outbreak. “If you have a problem with our decision – stay home!”  

(Rae’s Cafe)

While Wohletz continued to endanger the lives of countless KC metro residents, Jackson County stepped in. 

“Jackson County’s environmental health administrator issued a warning and repeated summonses to Rae’s Café,” reporter Dan Margolies wrote in a piece for KCUR. “But after the restaurant ignored them, the administrator revoked the restaurant’s food permit on Sept. 3.”

Even with their license removed, Rae’s Café kept fighting the system.  

The café quickly converted to a “private club” where anyone could enter for one dollar. The only stipulation was that the café did not allow masks. Needless to say, this plan didn’t last for long. 

As of this week, Rae’s Café is officially closed via a Jackson County judge’s order made this past Thursday.   

While most businesses haven’t mimicked Rae’s Cafe fiasco, other public places have followed suit. Many schools in Texas and Florida are constantly battling the courts to dismantle the mask mandates.  

The stubbornness of these so-called “patriots” has made the lives of pro-mask and pro-vaccine people difficult. It feels like we’ve been combating this virus for decades, as setbacks follow whenever there’s progress. It shouldn’t continue this way.  

Rae’s Café’s efforts to go against public mask mandates have only begun. Should other local shops adopt these maniacal concepts, the cycle will only continue. Kansas City metro authorities would have an obligation to shut down the city again to decrease the risk of COVID-19 infections. 

With illnesses and deaths rising around the area, the future is murky. However, there are ways to slow down these rising statistics.  

The best thing that many can do is get the vaccine, continue to follow COVID-19 protocols and spread the correct information to everyone. If getting the vaccine has not been on your itinerary, you can go here to learn more about where you can get a vaccine on and off-campus. 

You can find UMKC’s latest COVID-19 protocols here. Finally, never use a stupid Facebook post or a celebrity’s wacky theory as reliable sources. Continuing in these three simple steps will keep the city afloat for as long as possible.   

While not everyone will face an Aussie freedom fighter in a cheese store, many will face agitators, no matter the workplace or scenario. It’s up to us to combat false information from those who fabricate hazardous theories or threaten others by not wearing their masks properly. 

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