ORONO, Maine — Update (August 5)
On Tuesday, Orono police said no charges will be filed against a customer whom owners of the Common Loon Public House said spat on an employee. The department said it reviewed security footage and interviewed all parties involved.
Original Story (July 29)
If you've ever been to The Common Loon Public House in Orono, or just walked by it, you'd know it's a welcoming atmosphere.
With Pride flags, Black Lives Matter flags, and the words 'Love' and 'Equality' written on the windows, you know what the pub stands for. Anyone is welcome inside, but during these COVID times, you need to wear a mask.
Two weeks ago, one customer took exception to that policy.
“At the time it was shocking, and a whirlwind and it escalated kinda quickly," co-owner Cory Gardner said.
“It’s surprising the level to which a person would go to a simple request of hey please wear your mask or we’d like you to leave," co-owner Meghan Gardner added.
The two said the party entered the restaurant, had questions about the required mask policy, and then sat at their table. It was then one customer began arguing the policy to a college-age server.
The Loon's bar manager went to calm down the situation and thank the customers for wearing their masks when they walked to their table.
The situation eventually escalated to the point where the party was asked to leave the restaurant, which is when things turned out of hand.
The owners said the woman in the party threw menus, and silverware at the bar manager. If that wasn't enough to get her point across, she spat, yes spat, on the employee.
“I can’t imagine a scenario where I would spit on another human being no matter what was going on," Meghan Gardner said.
“I don’t have a Ph.D. in Micro-Biology, this is just the policy if you have a problem, you can leave," Cory added.
Orono Police has launched an investigation and as of Saturday, identified the customers involved in the incident and will begin interviews.
The investigation is still ongoing.
The two added it wasn't the first time someone had a problem with the required mask-wearing, but it was the most eventful.
The two have owned The Common Loon for two years and have been in the service industry for most of their adult lives. They know what it's like to be mistreated at work but never like this.
“To do this type of stuff, and treat people this way, I don’t care what you believe it’s terrible," Cory added.
The bar manager will look to press charges, the Gardners said, and they support him.
Terence Harrigan is an attorney with Vafiades Brountas & Kominsky in Bangor. He said the restaurant had every right to ask the party to leave.
“Yes, if it’s private property they have the absolute right to exclude anyone for any reason. If they’re not wearing a mask and you want them to wear a mask you can exclude them from your property.”
According to Harrigan, spitting on someone is grounds for assault. It is a Class D misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
The Common Loon staff are on a much-needed vacation after months of hard work as it adapted to all the COVID-19 guidelines. It will be back open Friday afternoon.