Mount Airy Developer Ken Weinstein Confronts Racist, Anti-Semitic Response to Trump Tiff

Ken Weinstein, owner of Trolley Car Diner in Mount Airy.
Ken Weinstein, owner of Trolley Car Diner in Mount Airy.

Like so many controversies these days, a real-life incident at a local diner has found new life on Twitter.

It all started on Nov. 9, the morning after the election. A customer at the Trolley Car Diner on Germantown Avenue in Mount Airy came in wearing Trump paraphernalia.

“My server unfortunately said to her, ‘Good thing you’re not in my section,’” said Ken Weinstein, Trolley Car’s owner and a prominent real estate developer in Northwest Philadelphia. “She shouldn’t have said that. She knows it was wrong. She apologized and feels bad about it.”

Both server and manager apologized to the customer, who left soon thereafter.

“Not that it’s an excuse, but nerves were very raw the morning after Election Day on both sides. But [the server] knows she made a mistake,” Weinstein added.

Exactly a week later, the same customer returned during that server’s morning shift.

At some point during her visit, “she got up to go to the bathroom and stood uncomfortably close to the server, like right behind her,” Weinstein said.

The server — who prefers to remain anonymous — then spun around to help another patron but ran into the customer, he continued. The customer started yelling and said she was physically assaulted.

That customer — who wished to remain anonymous as well — spoke to 6ABC about the altercation on Nov. 16, saying, “I get up from the table and she’s standing in the hallway, and she backs into me and then, like, checks me.”

The manager again apologized to the customer, “but unfortunately she ran home and contacted her friend who has over 60,000 Twitter followers.”

That friend is Jack Posobiec, the special projects director for Citizens for Trump, according to his Twitter bio.

That afternoon, Posobiec tweeted, “My friend just got assaulted by an employee at @TrolleyCarDiner for being a Trump supporter. Why would they do this to her?” followed by the diner’s phone number.

“That’s when the firestorm started,” Weinstein said. “I was shocked that the incident was misreported and that people would just take that person’s word for it, and to say some of the most hateful and nasty things I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Calls and tweets started pouring in.

“[The response] was very racist, some of the comments made particularly over the phone to my staff — until we asked the staff to stop answering the phone,” Weinstein said.

They stopped picking up for about four days and also had to remove the diner’s Facebook page.

“Considering we’re a family-friendly restaurant, the comments [on Facebook] were totally inappropriate for people to see,” he added.

People called threatening to burn down the restaurant; to harm Weinstein, his family and his staff; and to bring guns and weapons into the diner.

The furor has died down, but Weinstein estimated they received more than 1,000 calls overall.

He said he’s never experienced anything like this before, even in his personal life.

“Obviously, as a child, you experience some of that,” he said. “There’s always someone stupid who feels like they need to say something. But as an adult, I don’t think I have [experienced anything like this].”

The diner serves a diverse clientele.

“It’s probably the most diverse restaurant in the city in terms of Muslims and Jews and African-Americans and just people of all races, religions, nationalities — it’s a pretty amazing mix of people. We take a lot of pride in that,” he said.

And those patrons have offered Weinstein plenty of support.

“The wonderful part of the story is that our friends and neighbors and customers have really stepped up and shown us a lot of love and support at the restaurant,” he noted. They’ve scheduled more meetings at the diner, which brings more business; introduced it to new friends; and written hundreds of positive reviews on Yelp and Facebook to counter the negative ones left by haters.

“You always want to learn from something like this,” Weinstein said. “People need to take an extra 30 seconds to not just believe and trust everything they see on social media. People need to take that extra 30 seconds to verify what they’re reading is correct and accurate before they take action.”

Weinstein did report the anti-Semitic and racist responses to the police.

He also reported it to the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center — “anybody that we thought should know about it.”

Weinstein believes this whole controversy may be the result of a setup from the customer. The fact that she returned during that server’s shift, that she was “inappropriately close” to her, that she has a friend with a huge online presence and following — “everything about it feels like a setup,” he said.

“Interestingly enough, the customer didn’t report anything to the police,” he noted. “If you were assaulted, you would typically report that to the police. She did not do that.”

The diner, which Weinstein has owned for 16 years, never came out for or against any candidate.

“We are very careful at Trolley Car Diner to not wear politics on our sleeve,” he added. “We don’t openly take positions; we don’t allow any signage or buttons. Having a diverse crowd includes diverse points of view, and people should feel comfortable coming in no matter what their point of view is.”

Taking a side comes with a lot of “raw nerves,” he said.

“People believe fake news that they see in the media, and people are more than ready to say things that were inappropriate even five years ago,” Weinstein said. “People today feel like they can say anything and do anything in an inappropriate way, and just from simply hearing misinformation or fake news they feel like they have to act on it.”

Even after all the chaos this incident has caused, Weinstein is still protective of his Trump-supporter customer.

“What happened to us I don’t wish on my enemies, and I wouldn’t want to put her name out there because she should not receive the same sort of hate that we received.

“Nobody should receive that.”

Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0737


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