Houston restaurant says people threatened to call immigration over keeping mask rule

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A popular Mexican restaurant in Houston says their social media pages have been flooded with hate messages because of their plan to continue requiring masks after the statewide mandate ends Wednesday.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the decision last week to drop the mask order and open businesses to 100% capacity starting March 10.

Some restaurant owners have chosen to continue requiring workers and customers to still wear masks.

Picos, located at Kirby and Richmond, is among that group requiring masks, and the owner says that's when the harassment started.

READ ALSO: Places in Houston where you do and don't have to wear masks after mask mandate lift

Arnaldo Richards says people have threatened to call immigration and report Picos workers.

The Richards family has served Mexican food in Houston for over three decades, so they're used to dealing with all kinds of customers.

But they say seeing this hateful side of people has been a tough process.

Richards says it was horrific, and all they're trying to do is keep their people safe and healthy.

"Basically, this gentleman was saying that I should not be going against the wishes of the governor, that the government had the ability to call immigration on us and that we should be careful. You know, we find it highly racist and inappropriate," Richards said.

"It's crazy. It's stupid. Why do we have people going and saying that what we're doing is wrong? I mean, just because we choose to protect our family and our employees and our customers," he continued.

Remember, businesses have the right to make their own mask rules. HPD Chief Art Acevedo wrote about this in a tweet last week after Abbott's decision.

"As a reminder to our fellow Texans, private businesses enjoy property rights and may require folks to wear a mask. Please respect their property rights. If you decline to wear a mask and are asked to leave and refuse, you may be committing the offense of criminal trespass," Acevedo said.

But Richards says the response hasn't been all bad.

Since the Richards family has come forward talking about these hateful messages, they've gotten an outpouring of support from people who support wearing masks. They say for that, they are grateful.

MORE: Texas businesses reserve the right to keep or drop COVID-19 measures
EMBED More News Videos

In the wake of the governor's reopening order, ABC13 is checking in with local restaurant owners. They are preparing for COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted on Wednesday, March 10. Will you see a change? ABC13's Roxie Bustamante has answers.

H-E-B will still require employees, customers to wear masks
EMBED More News Videos

The food and beverage industry will be left to enforce their own policies once the Texas face mask mandate ends. Press play to hear from some business owners.

Follow Courtney Fischer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.