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Ohio Donut Shop Calls Police on State Rep over COVID Concerns


In West Chester, a battle is raging after a donut shop called the police on a Republican state congresswoman who was holding an event inside their establishment.

“We didn’t think we’d be a shop that would have to make a post like this, but here we are… Our staff in West Chester were bombarded with a large group of people for a Facebook event ‘Coffee Chat with Rep. Jennifer Gross’. This was NOT approved by us, nor did anyone call to tell us that this was happening,” Holtman’s Donut Shop said on its Facebook page.

“Upon arrival they did not exercise social distancing inside the shop,” the post continued. “Our staff asked that they please spread out and wear their masks while they were standing or moving about the shop.”

The post accused some of the attendees of the event, hosted by Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) of standing and talking without wearing masks. That is a violation of COVID-19 protocols. In order to talk without a mask inside an Ohio restaurant, one must be sitting.

Holtman’s also said that several people called them and threatened to report them to the health department because of the group’s unruly behavior.

Eventually, they called the police.

“Our staff had several people walk up or in the shop and left because of the large group,” the post said. “We had a few people call and threaten to call the health department. Our team tried to handle the situation best but were very uncomfortable after having people not listen to our directions to keep a safe environment. Our management team decided to call the non-emergency number and ask that police help facility [sic] the situation.”

But Gross has a much different take on the event, which she posted to her Facebook page.

She says she gave the establishment six weeks advance notice about the event, and that no one from the shop ever called her back.

“Today I had a coffee chat to meet with my constituents at Holtman’s Donuts in West Chester,” she said. “I wanted to support small businesses and felt this was a good choice. I had called 6 weeks ago to let them know I was coming. I also called the personal cell phone of a manager named ‘Lori’ and asked for a return call which did not happen. Today approximately 20 people came. We all bought donuts and/or coffee. We were all together, eating, talking and drinking coffee, when one of the store employees asked us to spread out – which we respectfully did.”

She later updated the post to reflect that the person she called at Holtman’s was named “Toni,” not “Lori.”

Gross described some confusion about whether standing and drinking coffee without wearing a mask was an activity ordained by Holtman’s staff. Apparently, it was not.

“The next thing we knew, the West Chester police were there and asked us to leave which we did. It’s a sad time when reason has become extinct. How do you eat donuts and drink coffee while talking with your friends with masks on?” she asked rhetorically.

Gross, calling the incident “unfortunate,” said she would love to support small businesses that support “freedom,” and that the restaurant could have simply asked her group to leave instead of calling the police.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to
Photo “Jennifer Gross” by Jennifer Gross.