Wednesday 24 January 2018

Restaurant calls out customers who refused service by autistic waiter

The Grenache restaurant in Worsley, near Manchester
The Grenache restaurant in Worsley, near Manchester

David Kearns

A restaurant owner has hit out after customers asked not to be served by an autistic member of his waiting staff, saying anyone who has a problem with austim is not welcome at one of his tables.

Mike Jennings, who runs the Grenache restaurant in Worsley, near Manchester, said he was 'astonished' when a table of customers shunned one of his waiters.

Asked what the issue was, one of the customers said “what is wrong with him?” when approached by Mr Jennings, while another balked “What would you give him a job?” when the restaurant owner explain his server Any Foster (45) suffered from autism.

Rallying behind his worker, who only started working at Grenache three weeks ago to help support his mother who suffers from Alzheimer's, Mr Jennings posted a strongly worded statement on Facebook.

Thoughts on an incident which occurred last night....Totally unacceptable.Strongly worded but we need to get our point across.#equalopportunities

Posted by Grenache Restaurant on Thursday, 3 March 2016

“Here at Grenach, we employ staff based on experience, knowledge and passion... NOT the colour of their skin, or the way they look, how many tattoos they have, their dress size, religious beliefs or illness. We do not discriminate!

“If you DO... then please do not book a table at Grenache. You do not deserve our time, effort or respect!”

Responding to several comments that the customers were always right, Mr Jennings continued: “Every single customer that walks through the doors is entitled to their opinion. If a customer didn't like their meal, we'd listen and take their comments on board.

“But when their 'feedback' is down right rude, upsetting and discriminative, we have to take a stand.”

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News about the incident, the restaurant owner and his partner Karen backed Mr Foster, saying the incident had hit his confidence.  

“All we care about is someone having enthusiasm and passion. The rest we can teach,” he told the newspaper.

Mr Foster said this was not the first time he had experienced discrimination because of his condition.

“I always feel that it’s automatically my fault and I go into defence mode. I always think I have to apologise," said the employee, who was diagnosed with autism seven years ago.   

“When I apologised to the customer she made such a fuss.

“The other table I was serving left a big tip so I knew it wasn’t me.

“I try not to take it personally because it has happened so many times in the past I have just got used to it.”  

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