Police Told They Aren’t Welcome In Restaurant; Owner Cites Misunderstanding


Locals are being asked to boycott a teriyaki joint in Washington after a sheriff reported that the restaurant told law enforcement they were not welcome.

“I am not often speechless but today I was advised of an incident at the Lucky Teriyaki restaurant in Sedro-Woolley that completely took me by surprise,” Sheriff Will Reichardt began in a Facebook post on July 14.

The post says officers were told three separate times that their business was not welcome and to spread the word.

The first instance occurred when two deputies went up to pay for their meal, during which time the owner requested that they not eat there anymore. The chief deputy, taken aback by what he heard, spoke to the owner for confirmation and received the same message. The owner then repeated the request to the chief while asking that the word be spread to other law enforcement. The owner told them that customers found the presence of law enforcement in the restaurant uncomfortable.

Mr Li, the owner of Lucky Teriyaki, is now attributing the incident to a language misunderstanding. Both the owner and his son are Chinese, and the pair say their intent was lost in translation.

The restaurant had been receiving a lot of calls from angry English-speaking customers, to which the son normally responded “ok” without fully understanding, Mr Li told a KIRO 7 reporter through a interpreter.

Mr Li, who was noted as being visibly emotional, added that he appreciates law enforcement and all the work that they do. He invited all officers to eat for free at the restaurant on Monday.

After the incident, the restaurant received many death threats via phone and on Facebook. 

Followers of the case have expressed a variety of opinions regarding the language barrier. When asked in a Facebook post, the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office denied that there was any miscommunication. Several users say that they are former customers at the restaurant, and there was never a language issue, especially with the owner’s son.

“I usually get my food to go from there but a month ago I ate there (inside) and my 2 year old dropped a little rice (not much) and this same guy (the son) in great English told me ‘you sweep its not my job to clean up after your kid’ and rudely shoved a broom towards me,” read one post.

The majority of the people responding to the Facebook post are supportive of the police officers, however most agree that death threats are taking things too far.

“Death threats are UNACCEPTABLE!!! Boycott the restaurant if you disagree with their actions. That’s all you need to do. Ridiculous,” one commenter wrote.