The Little Café That Almost Could

A recent story out of Kansas City, the town in which I live, suggests just how eager the Left is to control our lives, right down to the food we eat. The story involves a friendly hole-in-the-wall café whose brave proprietor had had enough.

A little background is in order. In 2008, I somehow emerged as the public face of the opposition to a ballot measure that called for a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in Kansas City. What made this unusual, and what made me an effective spokesman, was that I never smoked. Well, not that effective—my side lost the election, narrowly.

My side, as I saw it, was not pro-smoking, but pro-freedom. I argued that no law prevented entrepreneurs from banning smoking in their establishments, and no law forced anyone to eat or drink at a place where others smoked. Indeed, once I saw the election results, I half-regretted not having opened a non-smoking restaurant of my own.

Unfortunately, freedom is a much scarcer commodity today than in 2008. Back then, health officials used their bully pulpit to persuade citizens. These officials had one set of solid facts on their side, namely that smoking is dangerous, and one set of dubious assertions, namely that second-hand smoke is a health hazard. In 2008, citizens were allowed to weigh the evidence.

In 2020, although all the evidence was dubious, we were allowed to weigh nothing. There were no petitions to sign about coronavirus restrictions, no ballots to cast. Even if there had been a vote, a tightly controlled media, local and national, actively censored information that conflicted with an official orthodoxy that changed from week to week.

Health officials in Jackson County, Missouri, proved as fickle as health officials anywhere. Home to the greater part of Kansas City, Jackson County was the only “Biden” county in Western Missouri. Predictably, city and county officials think the way Democrats have been programmed to think.

An unusually honest New York Times article from March 2021 told us just how Democrats do think—or, more precisely, don’t think. The story shared the results of a comprehensive Gallup survey on COVID a year into the pandemic. To its humble credit, the Times owned up to the paradox contained in those results.

For many liberals, wrote the Times, Covid had become “another example of the modern Republican Party’s hostility to facts and evidence.” Yet on the one defining question for which the answer was knowable and provable, liberals proved appallingly ignorant.

That question read, “What are the chances someone with COVID must be hospitalized?” The correct answer was 1-5 percent. Yet 41 percent of Democrats said more than 50 percent, and another 28 percent of Democrats said more than 20 percent. Think about these numbers. Aided and abetted by the major media, public health officials persuaded nearly 70 percent of Democrats that COVID was massively more dangerous than it actually is.

Republicans did considerably better on this question, but not well enough to brag. Too many Republicans believe their health officials and rely on major media. Amanda Wohletz, the proprietor of Rae’s Café in suburban Blue Springs, is not among them.

Wohletz accepted the mask mandate when first issued in spring 2020. Like most Americans, she did not know enough about COVID to distrust officialdom. For a few months in early 2021, those officials lifted the mandate but re-imposed it in summer 2021. Although the number of reported COVID cases had increased, the surrounding counties did not feel the need to demand the largely useless masks. Neither did Wolentz.

In 2008, non-smokers had a reasonable beef. Almost every eatery allowed smoking. In 2021, every eatery in Jackson County accepted the mask mandate except for Rae’s. Nevertheless, unnamed customers of Rae’s—or so we are told—forced the closure by reporting the café’s mask-free atmosphere to the county health department.

From the media reaction, you would think that Wohletz had opened a wet market with a BYOB—Bring Your Own Bats— sign. No, what Wohletz actually posted was a sign that read, “Our authority comes from God.” Everyone who ate at Rae’s accepted that authority, at least Wohletz’s interpretation of it.

Almost everyone. Unnerved by a year’s worth of mainstream panic porn, the complainants had to be shocked at the sight of American citizens, staff and customers alike, willing to make their own choices and manage their own health risks. These wusses had lost their taste for freedom. Drunk on a potent cocktail of ignorance and arrogance, they enlisted the state to crush their fellow citizens’ freedom as well.

Fearful that other restaurants would follow Rae’s example, county officials revoked its food permit. “Despite numerous warnings and attempts by the County to work with the business's owner, she has refused to take corrective action and has made it clear that she has no plans to do so,” huffed the county.

Exploiting a loophole on the books, Rae re-opened as a private “club” with a reasonable $1 entry fee. In a corrupt, Democratically-controlled county like Jackson, few thought Wohletz would prevail. She didn’t. Finally, on Thursday, a Jackson County judge ordered the restaurant closed as a public or private establishment.

“We remain committed to taking the actions needed to protect the health and safety of our community during this difficult and challenging time,” said the Jackson County executive’s office on learning the judge’s decision.” Together we will get through this pandemic and in the end, we will have a stronger, more compassionate and caring community.”

Yes, Jackson County, nothing says “caring and compassionate” like a boot on the neck.


Jack Cashill’s latest book, Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply, is now widely available. See for more information.

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License

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