Recently, Texas made headlines for Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to drop the state’s mask mandate and fully reopen businesses. Despite the fact that restaurants, bars, and supermarkets can allow customers without masks and operate at 100 percent capacity, many establishments (including nationwide fast food chains and grocery stores) have said they’re keeping their mask policies in place for the time being. 

Now, a Dallas-area diner is getting attention for a new surcharge related to its decision to keep customers masked up. Earlier in March 2021, the co-owners of Denton, TX’s Legends Diner put up an amusing sign announcing a new surcharge: “$50 if I have to explain why masks are mandatory. $75 if I have to hear why you disagree.” 

a new sign on the door at legends diner in texas stating people who refuse to wear masks must pay for admittance

Credit: Photo courtesy of Wayne LaCombe

Though Legends Diner’s Wayne and Kat LaCombe are naturally joking a bit about the sign, they’re both pretty serious about wanting to play it safe. “I just can’t afford to get the virus. We’d have to shut our business down,” Wayne LaCombe told The Dallas Morning News

The precautions aren’t just in place for Wayne and his wife Kat (a retired nurse), either. The LaCombes note that a significant portion of their throwback-style diner usual clientele is over 60, meaning there’s reason for an extra degree of caution until vaccination progresses further. 

“We want to stay safe for them,” he told Dallas Morning News. “For our customers, our employees, it’s the right thing to do.” 

Though their announcement of a mask policy has attracted local attention and garnered plenty of photographs, Legend’s is far from alone in keeping its mask policies in place despite loosened state-level restrictions. Grocery chains like Albertsons and H-E-B are among those saying customers will still have to wear masks, while McDonald’s and Texas favorite Whataburger are among the restaurant chains keeping their earlier protocols in place. 

Related: One Year Later: How the Pandemic Changed Home Cooking

Since you’re probably wondering, the answer is no: LaCombes hasn’t had to actually charge anyone for noncompliance — at least not yet.  While Wayne LaCombe told Dallas Morning News that he came closer to charging two recent customers who weren’t masked, when they came up to pay, he relented. It seems the policy is ultimately less of a revenue-generating proposition and more of a reminder to keep looking out for each other as we try to make our way out of these strange times. 

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