Springfield restaurant owner faces backlash for social media comments

A Springfield restaurant owner is facing backlash for comments he made on a social media post discussing racism.

The owner of Mobile Dogs Cafe in downtown Springfield, who is white, made racially insensitive remarks directed at another person in the comment section of the Facebook post on Tuesday. He later used a racial slur in reference to someone during an exchange on Facebook messenger - which was later shared publicly by the person he was messaging.

Some of the posts received hundreds of comments and shares, with many voicing concern.

The president of the local NAACP urged residents Wednesday to no longer patronize the restaurant.

Jeff Wade, the owner of Mobile Dogs Cafe on West Main Street told the News-Sun on Wednesday that he was “blowing off some steam” when he was private messaging someone he knows.

Wade added “the N-word to me, I grew up with them, so we would call each other that. So that is no more than me calling you a punk in my words.”

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The original Facebook post was from Springfield resident Jeremy Denney, who is white. He stated that “I love being blocked for calling racists out on their ignorance and hatred. Wait for these screenshots…..” It then started a debate on racism in the comments section.

During that debate, Wade replied to a comment made by Richard Bervis Reynolds III, a former Springfield resident, who is black.

Wade replied to Reynolds at one point saying “like I said people like you make me hate black people keep it up there black boy.”

As the conversation continued both men exchanged insults with Wade replying “ok monkey,” which was later deleted.

In one of Reynolds’ comments he said the confederate flag, white Jesus and statues idolizing men who were enemies of America are constant reminders of racism.

Wade responded that all lives matter and urged Reynolds to quit worrying about everyone else.

Wade also replied to the original post by saying he is “sick of hearing about racism.” As more individuals commented on the post, Wade said, “people bring it on themselves.”

Denney, who made the original post, later shared a private message between him and Wade regarding the comments made to Reynolds.

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In that exchange Wade said “I’m sick of these f****** black people thinking I’m racist I think most of them are.”

Denney replied that he has known Reynolds for many years and that Wade’s remarks and the words that he used were “way too impulsive and not thought out.” He also stated to Wade that “you aren’t doing yourself any favors bro.”

That is when Wade said, “It’s about to get worse with that (N-word).”

Reynolds told the News-Sun that he “never wanted anything to happen like this.” He just thought Wade “should be educated on the situation.”

“My goal wasn’t to destroy this man’s life or business,” Denney also told the News-Sun. “It was to expose that this hatred and racism is still here.”

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Reynolds added, “If anybody can take anything away from it, it’s that this stuff isn’t okay.”

Denise Williams, the president of the Springfield unit of the NAACP, said that Wade’s behavior is unacceptable and with him being a local business owner, the community should not be supporting him.

“He needs to take his business somewhere else,” she said

“My business will not shut down,” Wade said. “They can think I’m prejudice, but I’m not. I have nothing against Black lives.”

Williams also noted another incident involving Wade in 2015, when an altercation that occurred inside his restaurant escalated and a woman, identified as his girlfriend at the time, used a racial epithet.

Wade later apologized about that incident on Facebook.

In reference to the incident on Tuesday, Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said “We can not stand for any racist activity or behavior in our community. We do not condone it and we do not stand by it.”

He added that he was very disheartened from what he read and “saw from a business owner in Springfield and it saddens me to see that type of behavior in the community.”

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