CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A controversial sign posted on the front door of a north Charlotte Japanese restaurant is raising eyebrows.
The sign has been up for the last three years, but the owner recently made the sign bigger and more prominent so people would take notice. People are snapping photos of it every day.
The sign on the door of Kabuto Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar off WT Harris Boulevard reads: "Take your hood down. Pull your pants up. Finish your phone conversation. Marijuana smell not allowed. We will be glad to assist you."
"It's actually the best response we've ever had," restaurant owner Martin Tanaka said. "More people think that more places should do it."
Tanaka said that because his restaurant has hibachi-style seating, customers often share a table with strangers. He said the sign is about showing respect to others so everyone can enjoy a good meal.
"Our regular customers are families, and we count on a lot of small children to come to this restaurant," Tanaka said. "I believe our society is lacking on respect, and I think we're falling behind on it."
Tanaka added the line about the marijuana smell on the new signs.
As recently as last week, he said he's had to ask people to leave because other customers were bothered by the marijuana odor. Customers are often too scared or shy to confront other patrons, so Tanaka said he has to do it.
"We have to turn them out because we don't like that in our establishment," he said.
Some people taking offense at the language on the sign.
"It looks like they are trying to say something about some kind of race," said one nearby resident who did not want to be named.
Others say they don't have a problem with the message.
"I mean, it is his restaurant and he chooses whatever he wants to put up," customer Sinai Hernandez said. "It's like if I wanted to put up rules in my house."
Tanaka said the sign has nothing to do with race and that he's had to turn away people of all races for breaking the rules.
He gives customers who don't follow the rules a second chance. However, if they refuse to pull up their pants, take down their hoodies or stop talking on their cellphones at the hibachi table, he asks them to leave.
There are four Kabuto locations in the Charlotte area, each owned and operated independently.
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