DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Chef Ricky Moore's Saltbox Seafood Joints attract many local and visiting foodies to his two Durham restaurants. Like other owners whose business depends on loyal customers, he's happy to welcome longtime fans back if they're wearing the protective masks now mandated in North Carolina's public spaces. He considers it part of his mission as an aware man, father and business owner.
"Take care of my community. Take care of my family. Take care of employees. Take care of every consumer that comes inside Saltbox," he said. "We all know that the hospitality side has been hit hardest in this COVID-19, and we can't sustain without having people come to our businesses."
That's why, with some people refusing to wear masks while claiming they infringe on their freedom of speech, Moore posted a blunt Facebook post explaining his position in very direct terms. He says someone else wrote those words but he agrees with the message.
Customers like Tamequia Rivers do, too.
"I feel safe, because if I came and didn't see that, I probably would leave," she said.
Moore says during his 50 years on Earth there was also pushback against the banning of cigarette smoke in public places and now that's accepted policy. He also knows everyone doesn't agree with his stand on mask-wearing.
"Customers with a different opinion and I appreciate that. But what I share with them is that it's important for me to look at the big picture. All we need to do is participate and cooperate, okay? And we'll get through this."
Chef Moore, his staff and supporters of the Saltbox Seafood Joint hope most people agree that masking is a matter of common courtesy and common sense.