FORT MITCHELL, Ky. — Mike Wong met some new customers Friday at his restaurant, Oriental Wok on Buttermilk Pike, when he and his staff served a packed house. The surge in customers, many said, was meant as an act of support for the business after it received a series of anti-Asian threats.
"This is one or two people," Wong told WCPO. "Totally, the community will support me."
Local police camped outside the restaurant much of the day Thursday after Wong reported a series of threatening messages aimed at his staff in the aftermath of Tuesday's Atlanta-area mass shootings that left eight people dead, the majority of whom were of Asian descent.
The shooting renewed focus on what has been a measurable increase in anti-Asian and anti-Pacific Islander rhetoric and aggression over the last year. What was already a pervasive problem, local leaders say, has been made worse throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think it's horrible," said first-time customer, Judy Cosset. "It's just a horrible thing that these people had to deal with because of what going on with the virus. We literally read what was going on and felt like we needed to come and support the organization and the community."
The restaurant posted a message on Facebook Thursday explaining why police were called to their premises and how hateful threats are nothing new.
"Our homes and cars have been egged, we are pummeled with daily calls telling us to 'go back to China' along with other crude and violent threats. We walk our staff to their cars to ensure safety every night," the statement reads.
"It breaks my heart because nobody deserves..." said another customer, Amy Bostic. "Hate, to me, is just ignorance, and these people definitely do not deserve it. They've done nothing wrong."
Cosset said part of her motivation to visit the restaurant Friday evening was to send a message that the threats they've received do not align with her community's values.
"That's just not the way that we think," she said. "That's not the way that we feel, and we wanted them to know that."
Wong said the response from the community was overwhelming.
"We love all the people, the country," he said.