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Fuki Sushi owner, a Palo Alto native, subjected to racial-hate tirade

Original post made on Aug 7, 2021

For three generations, Lumi Gardner's family has operated their popular Fuki Sushi restaurant in Palo Alto. Last Sunday, she experienced a tirade of racial hatred she never imagined would happen in her community.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, August 7, 2021, 12:22 AM

Comments (61)

Posted by Jason Morimoto
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 7, 2021 at 7:04 am

Jason Morimoto is a registered user.

An unfortunate incident and one most certainly not reflective of Palo Alto...hopefully.

Wondering...(1) if the customer truly felt this way about Asians in America, why go to an Asian restaurant to dine, and (2) was there a sign posted in front citing that due to the coronavirus, only credit cards would be accepted?

Some people (regardless of their color) are silent racists and the ongoing encumbrances of the pandemic have left many with an extremely short fuse.

Still no excuse to take it out on others as we are all in this pandemic together and enduring the same inconveniences and restrictions.

As an Asian American whose family has been in America for four generations, none of this comes as a surprise as many non-Asians cannot tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian, and Filipino people.

In other words, 'they all look the same'.

The global pandemic has brought out the worst in people and until everyday life returns to some semblance of the past, these incidents will continue and some may eventually turn violent as we have witnessed in various media accounts.

As my late grandfather once conveyed to me upon reflection of being incarcerated in an internment camp during World War II..."Many white people simply tolerate Japanese-Americans but they will never be fully accepted as true American citizens due to an inherent racism that goes back prior to the war."

And this pervasive mentality of hatred and/or contempt towards any person of color is an ongoing trademark of a white America.

As Bob Dylan once wrote in Positively 4th Street, "Why don't you just come out once and scream it?"

And the irate white customer at Fuki Sushi chose to do so.


Posted by felix
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2021 at 7:05 am

felix is a registered user.

Lumi and staff - I am so sorry this guy spewed his racist hate at you.

It is worrisome that after the initial incident, you have been threatened.

I know Fuki Sushi well. It is an island of a calm with a gracious staff and is widely known as having the best Japanese food in town.

We can show support for Lumi and staff by making a to point go there. When we do, make sure to express support. One enraged racist must not get to make the biggest impression.


Posted by Efren Morales
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2021 at 7:50 am

Efren Morales is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by David Chang
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 7, 2021 at 8:14 am

David Chang is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Amber Thompson
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 7, 2021 at 8:33 am

Amber Thompson is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2021 at 8:55 am

Citizen is a registered user.

Ms Gardner and staff
WE (Palo Altans) love you , your restaurant, your part in our community, your many contributions to our community. We most definitely DO want you here.

What a terrible thing to go through. Thanks for speaking up.


Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 7, 2021 at 9:02 am

vmshadle is a registered user.

I am so sorry that this happened to you all. Appalling and despicable. Fuki Sushi has always been one of the pillars of our restaurant scene, and Palo Alto is fortunate to have you. I hope this racist assailant is identified and somehow made to account for his disgusting actions. Sending kindness and peace.


Posted by Rick Billings
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 7, 2021 at 9:54 am

Rick Billings is a registered user.

This was most likely an isolated incident and fortunately it does not occur on a regular basis.

And while it was very unbecoming to berate a proprietor with racist-laced overtones, the customer did finally cooperate by paying his tab with the requisite cash.

The coronavirus has taken a psychological toll on everyone and some people have difficulty containing their anger and frustration.

In all fairness, credit cards provide a certain degree of convenience as few people carry excessive amounts of cash these days.

Nevertheless, the angry customer should have refrained from his public outburst and kept his thoughts private.


Posted by felix
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2021 at 10:45 am

felix is a registered user.

Rick - read the article again. I think you got some facts revered regarding accepted payment. The restaurant takes credit cards, not cash.

And this wasn’t “overtones”, this was explicit expressed racism.



Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 7, 2021 at 10:54 am

Local Resident is a registered user.

Didn't someone get his license plate number? Sounds like a hate crime to me.


Posted by Miriam Kornicki
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 7, 2021 at 11:09 am

Miriam Kornicki is a registered user.

It was just a simple misunderstanding over payment method, perhaps fueled by the inconvenience (and subsequent anger) of having to use a credit card in lieu of cash.

Some people prefer to pay in cash and given that businesses must pay a % to the card issuer following any transaction, a cash payment should be a welcome means of exchange.

We always pay cash when dining out regardless of the dinner tab and believe me, sometimes it involves a lot of cash (including a sizeable tip).

This incident probably resulted in the food servers and bussers getting a minimal or no tip and hopefully the owner compensated for it in some way.


Posted by John B. Sails
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2021 at 11:12 am

John B. Sails is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Miriam Kornicki
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 7, 2021 at 11:21 am

Miriam Kornicki is a registered user.

@ John B. Sails

Since the angry customer eventually had to pay via credit card, the restaurant would have his name on the transaction receipt.

The question is...would the proprietor be willing to divulge this information in lieu of the alleged phone threats?

I have known many fine Japanese-Americans in my lifetime and most do not wish to stir-up or rock the boat.

This is part of their culture...to suffer & endure despite various hardships without complaining or racing a ruckus.

Unlike countless other Americans, they epitomize our most quiet and respectable U.S. citizens.


Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2021 at 12:06 pm

Carlos is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2021 at 12:21 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I'm sorry this happened, but he eventually paid cash and stormed out of the building. With an angry, abusive man this situation could've been worse. I'm glad it didn't get physical. Verbal abuse is bad enough.


Posted by Gertrude Wilkins
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 7, 2021 at 3:21 pm

Gertrude Wilkins is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by YentaThe Renter
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2021 at 3:33 pm

YentaThe Renter is a registered user.

He should apologize. Publicly. And perhaps consider a donation to…”All lives Matter,” and or do service, to any organization that may offer him some retiring of his faulty neural networks.


Posted by John
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 7, 2021 at 4:12 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Reggie Williams
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 7, 2021 at 4:29 pm

Reggie Williams is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by John
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 7, 2021 at 4:52 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 7, 2021 at 8:29 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Horrible customer. Also a racist. Terrible. Very sorry to learn someone treated this longstanding business in this appalling way.

By the way, as an “Anglo,” (!?), a term I never heard prior to moving to California, I hasten to assure you I’ve been told by two Asians “you all look alike” (to repeat what another poster above ^ said they had been told — as a person of Asian heritage).

“Whites” vary tremendously in culture, nature, food, some quasi-stereotypical characteristics - by country/ies of heritage - and are indeed individuals and should not be stereotyped, either.


Posted by PA Community Advocate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2021 at 11:46 pm

PA Community Advocate is a registered user.

Dear Gardner family,

Thank you for your many contributions to our great community. Fuki Sushi is a true Palo Alto legend.

This city and country is yours. Please don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.


Posted by felix
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2021 at 5:28 am

felix is a registered user.

Do people not read the article before commenting?
-The restaurant did take this man’s CASH payment though it’s policy is cards only.

There’s no excuse for his rage in a restaurant, yelling at women, slinging racist slurs at them. I’m appalled by the apologists here for his behavior.


Posted by AnonymousPerson
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2021 at 5:51 am

AnonymousPerson is a registered user.

This guy had an outburst because he was told he couldn't pay cash. While it was absolutely inappropriate, things like this happen sometimes. Once in a while people get angry and throw a fit. Many of us done something similar at one point while over the phone with a customer service agent or in person when we were upset about what we perceived was poor or unfair customer service. Maybe this customer had a bad day or week or was dealing with something difficult in his life. Maybe he has mental health issues.

This customer absolutely should have refrained from using racist language. But people do say mean and hateful things when they are upset, even when they don't necessarily mean it. They will call you out for whatever they can think of at the moment because they are filled with anger and rage. It otherwise wouldn't have been said. People these days are also frustrated with the pandemic, wearing masks, all of the restrictions. That takes a toll and I have read more stories about people lashing out as a result.

Sorry to the restaurant about this experience and witnessing a customer having a temper tantrum. I would not take it personally. Let it go and move on.


Posted by Barry Podesta
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2021 at 6:57 am

Barry Podesta is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by blah
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2021 at 10:38 am

blah is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Seer
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 8, 2021 at 1:20 pm

Seer is a registered user.

>> " As my late grandfather once conveyed to me upon reflection of being incarcerated in an internment camp during World War II..."Many white people simply tolerate Japanese-Americans but they will never be fully accepted as true American citizens due to an inherent racism that goes back prior to the war."

And this pervasive mentality of hatred and/or contempt towards any person of color is an ongoing trademark of a white America."

This was a terrible incident, but I don't think it is indicative of Palo Alto which is over 30% Asian. So, somehow Asians are more than "tolerated". I get that America emerged as a power in a colonial racist time. The only difference from the rest of the world is that it fostered the rights of the individual first for landed white males but this has been increasingly generalized until it is as close to a meritocracy as humanity probably can get, last I looked, for example, brown Indians are quite above average in wealth and run several of our most powerful corporations.

Meanwhile, by every measure, Asia (and Africa too!) is a much more racist place than the US and the West. The numbers of currently enslaved people in Asia and Africa is still shockingly high. So, I don't buy that "white people" (who I'm not "traditionally" one) are somehow particularly racist. They happened to be average at a time of high power and are now the least racist. That doesn't excuse anything, but it puts the "white" "west" bashing in context.


Posted by James Murakai
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2021 at 1:46 pm

James Murakai is a registered user.

> "I don't think it is indicative of Palo Alto which is over 30% Asian."

^ The 30% Asian population in Palo Alto (as in today) has increased primarily due to the influx of well-to-do Mandarin professionals and business owners from overseas who can easily afford to purchase $3M+ Palo Alto residencies.

The Asian population in Palo Alto (as in prior) was not as wealthy overall with a general livelihood mixture of dentists, domestic workers, laundry owners, and gardners.

On another note...if Palo Alto is so enlightened and non-racist, why did the PAUSD misconstrue Admiral Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy with a native-son of Palo Alto who just happened to be Japanese-American AND who was one of the first Nisei 442nd infantrymen (fighting for the United States) to be killed in action...when it came to renaming a middle school?

Now WHO is going to take the responsibility for this oversight?


Posted by III
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2021 at 1:59 pm

III is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Emmett
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2021 at 2:48 pm

Emmett is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by AnonymousPerson
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2021 at 3:16 pm

AnonymousPerson is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Carla
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 8, 2021 at 3:30 pm

Carla is a registered user.

This is not an isolated incident, and no one is being too sensitive about this.

Same identical thing happened to me in downtown Palo Alto. Over an argument over wearing face masks last year, an obviously-Russian female had the same reaction and the same vile words said to me: To return to my country!

As an owner of an Italian restaurant with three generations of Spanish/Portughese/Italian-American lineage, it is certainly reeks of racism.

This behaviour is not limited to Asians, or Blacks, or martians. People are both mean when they get mad.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2021 at 4:03 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I agree that an angry, abusive customer will go with the lowest common denominator to insult. Whatever will cut like a knife will be the weapon of choice. I saw this happening when I worked with the general public in high school and college. This was very hurtful to her, and everybody has their own level of sensitivity.


Posted by Reality Bytes
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2021 at 8:46 am

Reality Bytes is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by theAlex
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2021 at 10:41 am

theAlex is a registered user.

Just want to chime in and say I'm appalled at the apologists posting, too. Maybe they're Russian agents sowing discord.


Posted by NanaDi
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2021 at 10:42 am

NanaDi is a registered user.

I am so sorry that this fine businesswoman was subjected to such vile abuse. While there are many immature people who resort to both verbal and physical abuse when they don't get things "their way" (I was married to one), I suspect this guy is really mentally ill. Not to excuse his ugly behavior, but to remind everyone reading this of the impact on society of letting mental illness go untreated. Seems to me that this person is not fit to mingle freely in society.


Posted by valorie25
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2021 at 10:52 am

valorie25 is a registered user.

I read all the comments but maybe I missed it. Did no one step in to help? Were there other diners there who could have asked him to calm down? Why do people just "watch" when racism happens? Silence is validation to the racist that they are right. Stop being "sheeple"!


Posted by Tom from Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2021 at 11:09 am

Tom from Midtown is a registered user.

I write this with the full awareness of the question, "what would I do?", but it saddens me to realize that (apparently) none of the other customers who were in Fuki Sushi at the time thought this racist behavior was unacceptable enough to stand up and, as calmly as possible, tell this man that what he was doing and saying was just not OK. I would bet that several/many of them are loyal Fuki Sushi customers like we are, having gone there for at least 20 years, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that, after the fact, some regretted not saying anything in the moment. Maybe it would have made a difference, maybe not. But it would have been the right thing to do.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2021 at 11:22 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Ms. Gardner, I don't know you personally, but do frequent your restaurant and am grateful for the wonderful service and delicious meals I have enjoyed there.

I am very sorry you had this terrible experience. That man diminished himself with his awful behavior.


Posted by Julie Lythcott-Haims
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2021 at 11:25 am

Julie Lythcott-Haims is a registered user.

Lumi Gardner, I am so so sorry this happened to you. As a Palo Altan of color I stand with you and ask ALL Palo Altans to frequent Fuki Sushi in order to demonstrate that we won't stand for this. We think we're better than this or we say that this is "not Palo Alto?" Y'all, it IS. This stuff happens HERE. So let's not just say we're not racist or that was despicable. Let's not wring our hands. Let's show up, so that Fuki Suski owners staff feel the emotional and financial support of this community.


Posted by resident
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 9, 2021 at 11:29 am

resident is a registered user.

I am very sad to hear that this happened. I believe that many people are shocked and afraid of what is happening to the country that we love. Trump opened a Pandora's box and made some people feel that it is acceptable to voice their racism and anger. It is not acceptable. We have to stand together and show that this kind of behavior cannot be justified or tolerated.


Posted by Mo Revue
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 9, 2021 at 11:40 am

Mo Revue is a registered user.

Hey! What am I missing! A horrible unacceptable racial violent rant just occurred in our community!! This man should be charged. I’m an old white man..and I cannot believe anyone of any race would do this. Is this our new low? Accepting this?? Luckily I retired to the Philippines!


Posted by Megan Swezey Fogarty
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2021 at 12:10 pm

Megan Swezey Fogarty is a registered user.

Lumi Gardner, I am so sorry. This is a reminder to be an upstander whenever we witness. I plan to dine with you this week and apologize that you and your colleagues were treated this way. Thank you for being part of our dynamic community and we all can do better. Megan


Posted by jhskrh
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 9, 2021 at 12:21 pm

jhskrh is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Mark
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 9, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Mark is a registered user.

I have know this family as a patron for over 30 years now--the entire family is absolutely a wonderful family that has reached out to my wife and I on a personal level that far exceeds a business person's responsibility . I absolutely adore Lumi and I have watched that young lady turn from a high school student --walking through every 15 minutes--making sure everyone of us was taken care of--to now managing that amazing restaurant for her parents. What a dream come true for a family business. That I should be that lucky to have her as a daughter of ours. She is so rock solid--a mother now herself. I just don't get it--why? Lumi is such a well-spoken intelligent, lovely, woman. Now I have to be Caucasian and have Lumi look at me and I resemble a racist person --because some ignorant fool lowered my entire community's standards by speaking to Lumi (or anyone else btw) that way? I'm sorry Lumi. Ignoramuses like that are in all cultures and races unfortunately--history has shown us that. I'm just so sorry.


Posted by Fr0hickey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2021 at 1:33 pm

Fr0hickey is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by theAlex
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2021 at 1:45 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Posted by AnonymousPerson
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2021 at 2:45 pm

AnonymousPerson is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2021 at 6:14 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Please see the poignant documentary Silent Sacrifice by Jeff Aiello. Go to: www.pbs.org./video/silent-sacrifice-0marqy/

This important documentary reflects on how Japanese Americans were treated during the war.

Lumi Gardner did not deserve to be treated
in this shameful and horrid manner by the bully who happens to be white.


Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2021 at 7:02 pm

Carlos is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by karlakk
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2021 at 9:05 pm

karlakk is a registered user.

First of all thank you for being a part of the community.


Secondly, I think people are on high alert for threads of racism.

Thirdly, this scenario is the exact same scenario that has several hundred incidents by airline personnel actually inflight. Grocery store clerks and I have witnessed patients yelling at entire physicians offices about how they are un-American and traitors for whatever changes they have had to make to keep everyone safe.

I hope you know that the 99.9 percent of the population love and adore you and this person has some perception/mental health/ possibly substance abuse problems to look at your operation and direct those words and threats.


Posted by Sam Taylor
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2021 at 10:32 am

Sam Taylor is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 10, 2021 at 11:44 am

Green Gables is a registered user.

What an unfortunate incident. Also, unfortunate is that this happens all too frequently. Too many people living in a crowded area get cranky frequently. Not enough space. Unfortunate no one got a license plate number so that one of Palo Alto's finest could go have a chat with the joker. Happened to me many years ago over a parking space only the guy forgot his credit card so was easily traced.


Posted by Bette Layne
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 10, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Bette Layne is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 10, 2021 at 1:21 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

We know that the PAPD only charged some jerk with a misdemeanor for repeatedly threatening a PA Asian woman and her family with rape, death threats, etc. They didn't even sentence the jerk to anger management, only a short counseling sting for alcoholism after which his record will be expunged.

I've lived here long enough to have heard enough personal accounts of experiences with the PAPD to remain disgusted. They can't even get it together to update the Crime Blotters even with their outrageous salaries and new community outreach person. What a shame that the budget cutbacks hit the libraries instead of PAPD.


Posted by Lisa Mendez
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2021 at 5:10 pm

Lisa Mendez is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Mark
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 11, 2021 at 4:29 am

Mark is a registered user.

This story is disturbing, but so is that so many posts here had to be removed. How deep does this all go?


Posted by Harold Beasley
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2021 at 7:06 am

Harold Beasley is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Sushi Is Not The Issue
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 11, 2021 at 7:35 am

Sushi Is Not The Issue is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Soo Kim
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2021 at 8:01 am

Soo Kim is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Emil Del Pilar
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2021 at 8:35 am

Emil Del Pilar is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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