‘No Zionists allowed’ at new SLC bar, says owner Michael Valentine, former mayoral candidate

An Instagram post he wrote for Weathered Waves, a new bar at The Gateway in Salt Lake City, is being decried as antisemitic, which he denies.

(Jose Davila IV | The Salt Lake Tribune) Weathered Waves in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, March 6, 2024.

Four days after the new Weathered Waves bar received its license to serve hard ciders in its space at The Gateway mall in Salt Lake City, a post on its Instagram account announced, “NO ZIONISTS ALLOWED.”

The Monday post said: “We are a business, but we are also human. We don’t make and sell cider for robots. … We are horrified by the ongoing genocide in Gaza and are even more horrified to see so many Americans ignore and rationalize ethnic cleansing. That is why we are pleased to announce we are banning all Zionists forever from our establishments.”

Weathered Waves, 158 S. Rio Grande St., is part of the Six Sailor Cider group, and specializes in locally brewed hard ciders. Six Sailor Cider is owned by Michael Valentine, an advocate and small-business owner who unsuccessfully ran for Salt Lake City mayor last year as a first-time candidate.

In an interview Wednesday, Valentine said he wrote the Monday post and doesn’t see it as antisemitic. He emphasized that he opposes all hate speech and said he has received “thousands” of messages on voicemail and social media, including some with threats. He said he reported a threat to burn the bar down to Salt Lake City police.

He said he clarified his stance in a follow-up post. “We didn’t just banned Zionism, we banned all hate speech,” he said. “We banned neo-Nazis, we banned transphobes, we banned sexists, we banned homophobes — any and all hate speech.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services, whose commission awarded Weathered Waves a bar license Feb. 29, said the agency would be making a comment later in the day.

Valentine’s post said “Zionism is hate speech” and “white supremacy, and has nothing to do with the beautiful Jewish faith.”

It does not say how the bar will distinguish between Jews and Zionists, and he did not comment on that point. The post continues: “We forever stand firmly with the people of Gaza and humanity. We dream of a free and prosperous Palestine. Cease-fire now.”

Valentine accuses Israel of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.” It does not mention the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7 that left about 1,200 Israelis dead and approximately 240 taken hostage. A recent United Nations report found there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that the Hamas attack included rape and gang rape committed against Israeli citizens.

Commenters on the Weathered Waves post accused the bar, the cider company and Valentine of being antisemitic. One commenter wondered if the bar would “ask for someone’s Zionist papers” at the door. Others inquired how the bar would differentiate or identify who is a Zionist Jew and a non-Zionist Jew.

Yalla Kosher Utah, which describes itself as Utah’s first Kosher food truck, responded with its own post, saying: “Some people see food as a way to divide. That’s not us. At all.” It added: “And values aside, we think you’d prefer our shawarma over some cider that sympathizes with sexual violence.”

The cider company and bar also were “review bombed” on platforms that include Facebook and Google Reviews.

— The Salt Lake Tribune will update this developing story.

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