Social media was buzzing Tuesday night on the allegation that a local teen was denied service from a restaurant for refusing to remove a medical mask. 17-year-old Sydney Hodge, who is currently receiving chemotherapy for cancer, went to Los Mariachis in Central Center with three of her friends, Tuesday. Emily Bales said they were all wearing masks when they were approached by a waiter who asked if they were going to eat there.
"He was like, 'You take off mask?' and we were like, 'We can't,' and he started talking in Spanish, but we don't know what he was saying, obviously," said Bales.
Bales said they repeatedly told him that Sydney couldn't remove the mask because she has cancer but he kept asking them to remove them. She said they decided to leave after Sydney became embarrassed.
Restaurant owner Luis Cruz, who was out of state, Tuesday, drove to Chillicothe overnight to address the issue. After speaking with his staff, he believes it was a misunderstanding between the two parties, stemming from a language barrier.
Cruz said his employee, who speaks broken English, said he tried to seat the teens twice, never refused the group service, and didn't ordered them to remove the masks.
While Cruz believes the teens and the waiter didn't understand each other during the exchange, he said he is deeply sorry for the embarrassment and hurt the teen has gone through.
"My heart is with the (girl) with cancer because I have family with cancer," said Cruz.
He said they often donate to various community organizations, including some that serve cancer patients.
Earlier this month, Sydney's family reported that bracelets they had ordered as a fundraiser to help pay for her medical expenses had been stolen.