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Canfield cafe closes amid anti-mask tiff

CANFIELD — A local cafe owner said he took Monday off to protect his business, employees and patrons after people refused to wear a mask.

Chris Pendleton, an owner of Peaberry’s Cafe in Canfield, said Monday morning a woman came in without a mask, and he told her that she could sit and her order would be brought over to her.

A friend of the woman’s showed up, Pendleton said, and that’s when he asked if anyone had masks.

“‘You don’t have a legal right to ask me that,'” Pendleton said the women responded. “‘You don’t have a legal right to know what my medical issue is.”

He stated that the mask order is a mandate, and he’s obeying health department rules. The woman began recording the interaction.

When he asked her name and which organization she was with, she refused to respond, Pendleton said.

He ultimately decided to close the cafe for the day — before noon. “I’m done with the mask debate,” stated Peaberry’s Facebok page.

“We’re just trying to be a community business,” Pendleton said. “Keep a few of these college kids working and single moms working.”

Pendleton said he and his wife would take the rest of Monday to discuss if the business would reopen today. By later Monday the business announced: “We appreciate the overwhelming support from the community. Thank you, sincerely. Yes. We will he open tomorrow (Tuesday) normal hours.”

There is a sign on the business door stating: “Per Mahoning County Health Dept., if you are not seated and actively eating/drinking you must have on a face covering.”

The health department has a hotline the public can call to report a potential violation — especially violations of the statewide face covering order. Mahoning County’s hotline number is 330-270-2858.

Peaberry’s Cafe is willing to work with those who have medical conditions that impact wearing a mask, Pendleton said.

When patrons come in, employees remind them of masks, which sometimes people simply forget in their car.

“We’ve had several people who have forgotten (their masks) and when we’ve said something they’ve been polite enough. They’ll go and get (them),” he said.

When folks stop in and say they have a medical reason for not wearing a mask, Pendleton said that they are still served. There have been several people who have said they have medical reasons for not wearing a mask, and there have been no issues, he said.

afox@tribtoday.com

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