Arizona Restaurant Welcomes Everybody While Owner Gives Out Free Hugs
It’s hard to deny that we live in divisive times, but one restaurant in Chandler, Arizona is going out of its way to make sure it provides a place of inclusivity that welcomes everyone.
Wimpy’s Paradise, located in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, has placed a sign outside of its door that reads: “We don’t care about your race, color, religion, sexual orientation, political views,” concluding “Everyone is welcome.”
The restaurant also advertises free hugs, something that owner Randy Walters has done for years. However, Walters says that in the wake of President Trump’s controversial executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, his offer for free hugs has taken on new meaning.
“I can’t change the world. I can’t change anybody’s mind on Facebook,” says Walters says. “But for a moment I could hug someone and it’s good.”
Walters recalls one Muslim man in particular who visited Wimpy’s Paradise with his wife and was in desperate need of a hug after going through a difficult time recently.
“He walked up to me, and he hugged me, and he held on really tight,” explains Walters. “When he pulled away he was crying. He said, ‘Thank you for putting that sign out there; my wife and I, our family, have been treated so terribly.'”
Unfortunately, not everyone has been so receptive to the sign outside of Wimpy’s Paradise or the rainbow-colored heart that Walters has placed on the front door. He says not long ago a man kicked the door open so he could shout offensive slurs into the restaurant.
But that was just one incident of dissent. Meanwhile, many others are embracing the inclusive atmosphere Walters has created at his restaurant.
“With everything that’s going on politically and culturally, it’s good to see that somebody actually steps out and puts that out there,” says Marcos Castillo, who came to Wimpy’s Paradise for the first time after seeing a picture of the sign on social media.
Walters isn’t trying to create any controversy; he just wants his restaurant to be a place where people can embrace and celebrate their differences.
“I just want you to come in, break bread with me, have a good meal, get a hug,” says Walters. “Feel good for five minutes or ten minutes or whatever, maybe for the rest of the day.”