Wine Country restaurant reopens after Black Lives Matter controversy

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An acclaimed Wine Country restaurant that closed following backlash over an employee’s Black Lives Matter face mask is now back open for takeout and outdoor dining.

The Girl & The Fig in Sonoma closed last week after an ex-employee said she felt pressured to quit after she wore a face mask supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The story, first reported by the SFGATE, went viral on social media, attracting a storm of criticism and flooding the restaurant with bad reviews online.

The owners told the San Francisco Chronicle they planned to close temporarily to spare their employees and customers from the negative attention and a planned protest.

The employee, Kimi Stout, told the paper she was warned by a manager that she may want to stop wearing the mask after a customer wrote an aggressive complaint, and then a few weeks later the restaurant created a new policy requiring either plain or The Girl & The Fig branded masks.

Stout refused to change her mask and later quit.

In a statement on social media, the restaurant owners deny that management put any pressure on Stout and expressed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The owner said the policy was intended to create a uniform look at the upscale restaurant.

The restaurant has since said it plans to require diversity and inclusion training for management and staff and will increase its sales of products from Black-owned businesses.

The controversy drew international coverage, but many fans of the upscale restaurant said they would continue to support it.