Blind man with his guide dog left 'humiliated' after restaurant manager refused to serve him
Yesterday, a blind man from London was left feeling humiliated by restaurant staff after being denied entry to a branch of Franco Manca on account of his guide dog. David Kent, who is 58, was due to have lunch with a friend as part of a business meeting but was turned away from the establishment after someone noticed he was trying to sit in with his service dog.
"The person on the door presented the first challenge, she said we had to sit outside and would not be allowed inside the restaurant," Kent said in an interview with the Evening Standard. "When I asked her why, she said it was because of the dog."
But Kent explained that this shouldn't have been an issue, as his pooch - Chad - is clearly a service dog.
"Chad is clearly a guide dog, he had his white harness on and I’m there in a pair of shades."
Still, the staff member at the door refused to let him in, and called over a manager to discuss the issue. Really, the matter shouldn't have even gone that far, as seeing eye dogs are usually exempt from any bans that an establishment may have in place for other animals - something that Kent explained to the manager.
"When I saw the manager I produced my identification card which clearly states the law which says it is illegal to turn guide dogs away from establishments," he said.
Even after that, though, the manager refused to let him inside. Not wanting to argue any further, Kent and Chad reluctantly accepted that they were not going to be able to get their lunch as planned, and continued on to find somewhere else to eat.
After complaining to the restaurant later on, however, the man was left insulted even further when they offered him a free meal by way of apology.
"They just think ‘give them a voucher and they will go away,'" he said.
"To have a manager at a corporate establishment be completely unaware of the rights afforded to people with disabilities was so heartbreaking.
"In London in 2018 it has become a free for all on people with disabilities… this happens everywhere, it happens in shops, it happens in supermarkets… people with disabilities are treated as third-class citizens."
Speaking about how he was treated by the manager, Kent added:
"I just think where is your humanity? Where is your mercy? where is your sense of community?
"The older I get the sadder I get and the more gutted I feel that even with all the progress and all the campaigning, people still behave with impunity."
A spokesperson for the restaurant chain has since apologised, saying;
"All service dogs are welcome in our pizzerias. This, unfortunately, is the result of an error from individual staff members in one restaurant. We are taking the relevant steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again and have spoken directly with the customer in question to apologise and ensure he knows he is welcome at any of our pizzerias."
Hopefully, other restaurants and establishments will see this and realise the importance of providing a fair and equal service for all of their customers, regardless of any particular needs or requirements they may have.