Naples restaurant owner says if you don’t like the mask-less policy, don’t eat there

Published: February 22, 2021 10:30 PM EST
Updated: February 23, 2021 6:30 AM EST

The message from one Southwest Florida restaurant is that if you’re not comfortable with their setup, don’t dine there. But why do they have such a strong opposition to masks?

The owner of Mino in downtown Naples says he came to America more than 40 years ago to live in a free county. And since he doesn’t agree with the science behind masks, he put up a sign letting customers know he doesn’t agree with the city’s mask mandate either.

Massimo Puglielli is the owner of Mino Pizzeria Bar Ristorante. “This is something that’s political and it’s not going to affect the way I do things. And, I’ve been threatened with jail time, I’ve been threatened with fines and I don’t care. I’m not scared of that,” Puglielli said.

The owner of Mino isn’t afraid to tell anyone he’s not abiding by Naples’ mask ordinance. It says so in big bold letters on the door of his restaurant.

This is sign for some, like Larry Defuge to avoid that restaurant altogether.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable there,” Defuge said.

Some people even wear masks outside on Fifth Avenue in Naples.

Businesses have been enforcing the city’s mask mandate since December. “I think it’s great and it’s what we have to do and the science supports it,” Defuge said.

Others say it should be up to the individual business, not the city. Joe and Barbara Murray believe that. “It’s their option. It’s their restaurant. They can do what they want to do,” they said.

Puglielli says he will continue to do what he wants.

“Most of this whole thing is about politics and submission and fear,” he said. “I didn’t kill anybody. I didn’t hurt anybody and it’s not my job to babysit somebody, that’s not healthy.”

The City of Naples says it is not aware of any business in which 100% of the employees or patrons don’t wear masks, but will open an investigation whenever it receives complaints.

The mask mandate expires on April 13, unless Governor Ron DeSantis rescinds the state of emergency before then.