A blind man and his guide dog were left feeling humiliated after being refused service at a restaurant in London yesterday, (July 3).
58-year-old David Kent and his guide dog, Chad, were turned away from swanky Italian pizzeria, Franco Manca, as their restaurant policy wouldn’t allow them to bring a dog into their Tottenham Court Road branch.
The incident occurred yesterday afternoon, when Kent – who lost his sight during an operation 40 years ago – was meant to be meeting a friend for a business meeting at the restaurant for 1 pm.
He was told by Franco Manca staff he could not bring his guide dog onto the premises.
The issue started when Mr Kent and Chad got to the entrance. The waiter at the door informed him he’d have to sit outside and wouldn’t be allowed inside the restaurant.
When Kent asked why he stated he was told: ‘it was because of the dog’.
Mr Kent told the Evening Standard:
Chad is clearly a guide dog, he had his white harness on and I’m there in a pair of shades.
He rightfully pressed the matter concerning the restaurant’s policy towards his guide dog, which led to the manager getting involved.
Mr Kent continued:
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.
But despite producing the proper identification as proof of his condition, the manager still refused him entrance.
At this point, enough was enough and Mr Kent decided to leave. He said the experience left him appalled and frustrated at Franco Manca’s treatment towards both him and Chad.
While he does concede the restaurant apologised for the incident, even offering him a free meal voucher at their restaurant, the damage had already been done.
The voucher wasn’t enough for Kent, who serves as an engagement officer for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
They just think ‘give them a voucher and they will go away’.
To have a manager at a corporate establishment be completely unaware of the rights afforded to people with disabilities was so heart-breaking.
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.
Situations like the one Mr Kent experienced yesterday have left him questioning his faith in humanity, and who could blame him for it.
Kent went onto say:
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.
Following yesterday’s incident, Franco Manco gave a statement to UNILAD, which states:
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.
Earlier this year, March 29, 37-year-old Amit Patel suffered a similar experience, being left feeling ‘humiliated’ when no one moved to free up a seat for him on a Southeastern train, despite clearly struggling to find something to hold on to.
Since he became blind five years ago, after developing a haemorrhage behind his eyes, Amit admits this is a ‘daily occurrence’.
People should really start being kinder to one another.
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