A blind man and his guide dog were refused a table at a Chinese restaurant in Glasgow after being told that his dog was ‘an inconvenience.’
Charles Nicol tried to book a table at the Sichuan House on Sauchiehall Street ahead of a group of friends arriving from America.
Charles, who is registered blind and lives in Baillieston, asked his wife Marie to make the call.
To give the restaurant a chance to prepare for their arrival Marie told staff that her husband would be bringing his guide dog. She was shocked by the response from the Sichuan’s manager.
“It was really just a courtesy call because I know that by law they have to accept us, but I wanted save any embarrassment because this isn’t the first time this situation has happened,” Marie told Glasgow Live.
“I was passed from one person to another before I got a man who said ‘no’, that his boss said it was ‘an inconvenience.’ I said ‘wait, we haven’t told you how many people the table is for, what time or date we are coming’, I also said that by law they would have to take us.
“He just wasn’t interested.”
“It’s ridiculous,” continued Marie. “We have encountered this a lot. We have been refused entry to restaurants and taxis. We were even in one restaurant where a couple started to shout at us ‘why is that dog in here?’ When we said it was a guide dog we were told ‘so? I don’t care.’
“It has got to the point I want to do something about this.”
Marie added: “It has happened a lot in Chinese and Indian restaurants, which hurts me a lot because I am Chinese myself.”
A post on Marie’s Facebook page provoked a strong reaction while the group of friends who were travelling from the States were ‘disgusted’ when they heard the news.
Marie also spoke to the Guide Dog’s for the Blind Association who are now monitoring the case.
Marie continued: “Charles said, ‘look, it’s okay, I’ll leave the dog’ – but why should he? That is his eyes.
“After seeing what I had written on Facebook a friend called the restaurant and also tried to book a table for a group with a guide dog and was told ‘are you connected to that woman?’ before they hung up the phone on her.
“A few of my friends have seen the post and I think a few people have called them now.”
A spokesperson for the Sichuan House confirmed that Mr Nicol and his dog had been turned away but claimed “it was a total misunderstanding.”
“My boss is Chinese and I don’t think the staff explained the situation clearly to him, that this was a guide dog, a very well trained dog to help blind people move around. We didn’t get it right.”
The member of staff continued: “I explained to my boss afterwards that a guide dog is completely different to a pet dog. It is trained by professionals, they do not bark and sit tight and do not move without a command from their owner.
“It was a misunderstanding and we really don’t want to offend any kind of customer. We have a lot of disabled people who come to our restaurant to dine and are made very welcome – we do not exclude anyone.”
After being contacted by Glasgow Live for a response the city’s Licensing Board acted immediately.
Officers visited the premises within 24 hours and spoke to both staff and management about the incident and discussed training and legal obligations.
“Strictly speaking this is not a matter enforced legally by the Licensing Board,” explained a spokesperson. “However we asked Licensing Standards Officers to visit the premises and speak with management in order to ensure that they are aware of their obligations under the Equality Act.”
This story originally appeared in Glasgow Live.
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