Mississippi restauranteur John Currence on refusals to wear face masks: ‘This is not about you’


OXFORD, Miss. — Masks have become a hot-button issue, whether they’re required by law or just by a business, but now business owners say they’re getting push-back.

One renowned chef took to Instagram to send a message about it.

“For those of you who feel inconvenienced or embarrassed by getting masks, get over yourselves,” James Beard Award winner John Currence said in the video. “This is not about you.”

The video is getting plenty of attention for Currence, who’s head chef and owner of multiple restaurants across the South, including Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford.

“It was meant to be an inspirational message, as well as a PSA,” Currence said. “This is not about individual freedom. This is about social contract.”

Currence said he’s disappointed seeing how divided people are, so he said he made the video to address those divisive comments, specifically about face covering requirements.

“When you are in close contact with other individuals may be infected from or you may be unknowingly carrying the virus,” Currence said. “I don’t understand why some people can on one hand obey speed limit signs or recognize they can’t drive drunk or have to put on a shirt to come in my restaurant.”

His employees were wearing masks Thursday while taking orders and getting ready to reopen their dining room. They’re the biggest reason the award-winning chef used his platform to speak up.

“My guys working are there 8-10 hours each day and are exposed to dozens of people,” Currence said. “My team members are the most important thing to me in the world.”

Currence said the response has been overwhelming and mostly positive with support from other chefs and restaurant owners, including Memphis’ Kelly English. But he said his main audience is his customers.

Big Bad Breakfast reopens in Oxford this Saturday. Customers must wear masks to enter.

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