A popular family-run Mexican Cafe in Denver has received hate calls and death threats for refusing to allow their business to serve as a photo op for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign.
Oscar Aguirre, the oldest son of the family that owns Rosa Linda Mexican Cafe told 7News' he's even received death threats about not hosting the Romney stop in Denver.
When 7NEWS visited the restaurant just before noon Thursday, no one was eating. The restaurant had received 100 calls Thursday morning, with 98 of them negative, Aguirre said. While 7NEWS was there, one caller said, "Dirty Mexican, go back to where you came from -- you (expletive)."
"Since the Westword article came out, hate mail has been coming in from people across the country -- people sending us death threats and people calling us telling us we are racist -- that they hope we go out of business," he said on the restaurant's Facebook page .
"One person who called said 'Watch your back. We know where you live and we're going after you,' " Aguirre said.
He said many callers believe Rosa Linda refused to serve Romney because of a story in Westword that said Romney "wasn't invited" to eat at the restaurant.
"That's not true," he said. "We just didn't want our business used as a campaign stop."
The Denver Post put it this way: had Romney wanted to stop by for a plate of chile rellenos and beans, no problem. But casting for votes? Nope.
No plans to bring Romney to Cafe
A Romney campaign official told 7NEWS that Romney supporters simply asked the Aguirre family if they might be interested in hosting a campaign event and that there were no plans to bring Romney to Rosa Linda's.
But Aguirre tells a different story.
Aguirre, who is Mormon and whose parents are Mormon, said a former Mormon missionary contacted him on Aug. 6 about a possible campaign stop by Romney.
"It was presented to us that (Romney) wanted to do a political stump here. (He wanted to) talk about our small business (and) because we share our religious views with the candidate and are Latinos it would be great for him to do a campaign stop," Aguirre said. "We did say 'no' because we are not Republicans, nor are we Democrats."
However, he said his family would not turn down a visit from President Barack Obama, who is already in office.
"But, we did not want to be a campaign stop," he clarified.
In addition to death threats, Aguirre said the family-run restaurant has had to deal with canceled orders and reservations.
"Two people ordered $150 worth of food for lunch to be picked up (Wednesday). They called later and said, 'Oh, you're the one who doesn't want Romney in your business' and they canceled their orders, even though the food had been prepared," he told 7NEWS.
Aguirre said he also has had numerous reservations made through Open Table, an online reservation service.
"We have to pay Open Table for every reservation made and must hold those tables," Aguirre said. "None of them showed up."
Local Latinos outraged
The Moderate Voice reported that if the purpose was to fish for the Latino vote, it backfired.
Incidentally, we heard when Rosa Linda’s turned you down for a campaign stop and the mayhem that goes with such, you instead held your campaign stop in Denver at Chipotle “Mexican Grill” a large corporate chain of franchises.
Screenshot via Twitter
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shown with workers at a campaign stop at Chipotle Mexican Grill in Denver.
We can see you are casting about for the Latino vote, but Vato, got to tell you, eating a taco once a year at a chain restaurant ain't going to gain votes. We just feel like a fly-by moment in time to you. You want Latino votes?
Local Latinos won't forget what happened here… and we have huge numbers of cousins all across the nation who have already heard of the Rosa Linda fiasco from Romney & campaign.
You’re more than a day late and many votes short Mr. Romney.
The Huffington Post reports that Rosa Linda's is usually on the receiving end of love from patrons and the local community it has been serving since 1985. The restaurant is well-known around town for the thousands of free meals it donates to people in need on Thanksgiving.