Gracey Dolan, an employee of Chicago Bagel Authority in Lakeview Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

LAKEVIEW — The Chicago Bagel Authority is using snarky humor to deter anyone who refuses to wear a face mask from entering the bagel sandwich shop.

After receiving a complaint from a customer who was denied service because they refused to wear a mask in the store, Chicago Bagel Authority created humorous signs playfully shaming anyone who isn’t wearing a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Mask required to enter, Karen,” reads one sign posted outside the bagel joint’s Lakeview location at 955 W. Belmont Ave.

“To accommodate anti-maskers,” reads another sign. “We have provided a space 40 feet west where you can stare at your reflection in the window since apparently you’re the only person you care about.”

“Mask required to enter, Karen!” reads a sign posted outside Chicago Bagel Authority in Lakeview.

The signs, which are plastered repeatedly along Chicago Bagel Authority’s storefront, were created after a May 16th incident in which a customer claimed he had a condition exempting him from wearing a mask under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Gracey Dolan, an employee of Chicago Bagel Authority, said the man is one of several customers who have claimed to be ADA-exempt from Gov. JB Pritzker’s mask mandate.

“I’m not going to determine whether or not somebody has a condition, but regardless if you don’t have a mask you shouldn’t be inside the store because it puts us all at risk,” Dolan said.

She said customers also have provided fraudulent cards stating they have a medical condition preventing them from wearing a mask and they’re not legally required to disclose the condition. Many include the U.S. Department of Justice’s seal.

But according to the Justice Department, these cards were never issued, and business are encouraged not to rely on them when requiring customers to wear masks.

“The real crux of the issue is that we will accommodate you,” Dolan said. “Whether you do have a condition or simply don’t like wearing a mask, let us know and we’ll bring the food outside to you.”

Dolan said she was nervous to return to work when the store reopened in mid-May, but her fears of catching the coronavirus were alleviated when she saw the store’s new safety measures.

To limit interactions with customers, shop owner Greg Gibbs installed a massive sneeze guard that sections the kitchen area away from customers. But Dolan said the “most comforting thing” has been her boss’ support.

“In food service, it’s pretty common that your boss isn’t going to back you up against customers,” Dolan said. “But Greg has really shown he cares about his employees and values our safety over customers’ money.”

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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