Southwest Virginia business owners face backlash for attending Trump rally

Bernard’s Gastropub in Roanoke issued an apology

ROANOKE, Va. – At least two local restaurant owners are facing backlash for attending President Trump’s rally in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

The dust is still settling after one of the most historic days in America and now some locals are calling out their neighbors for being in Washington, D.C. the day chaos went down.

Sarah Davis is one of those hundreds of people who commented on Jon Bernard’s personal Facebook page. Bernard owns Bernard’s Gastropub in downtown Roanoke. He traveled from Roanoke to attend the rally with his wife.

“I do feel very uncomfortable going to a restaurant that had anything to do with what happened yesterday. Yesterday feels deeply un-American to me,” Davis said.

Bernard posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that it would be closed, and shared on his personal page, which is public, that he was excited to attend the rally.

He told 10 News he and his wife attended the rally and then went toward the Capitol, but left when they realized what was going on. Bernard said they were not part of the riot.

His social media posts have led to a laundry list of bad reviews on Yelp and Google, calls for boycott and angry comments from those like Davis. He temporarily pulled the restaurant’s Facebook page as well.

Bernard provided this statement to 10 News:

“We attended a D.C. rally on Wednesday that turned into a riot. We want to publicly state that we had nothing to do with any riot or any violence. We regret the decision to attend. That decision has turned out to be a mistake as we did not predict this tragedy. We do not condone violence in any form. We apologize to anyone that we have offended by attending as it was never our intention. We love our community and are sad that we let anyone down as a member of the community. We truly are supporters of free speech and the American dream and are doing our best to cope w the situation. We just want to state publicly we never meant to hurt anyone by attending a public event that turned into a nightmare for not just us, but the officials and the families affected by the mob that raided our Capitol Building.”

A Christiansburg business owner is also taking heat. Marie March owns Fatback Soul Shack and Due South. She also attended the rally.

March said she and her family headed home immediately following the conclusion of the rally near the White House. March is also taking criticism for the decision, however she is owning it.

“I think everybody should be given a voice and be able to support their beliefs and I think going to a rally with our current president I don’t see where that venom even comes from, I really do not understand it,” March said. “I’ve received death threats today actually, so I’m not really sure why.”

Both business owners told 10 News they wore masks while at the event. Davis said politics aside, that’s her biggest gripe, and is left to wonder if any quarantining will be done before serving food again.

“I’m very concerned about the possibility of them spreading COVID-19 in the Roanoke Valley from the thousands of people they were with from out of state,” Davis said.