A tearoom has denied claims it ordered a Jewish family to leave a 1940s-themed tearoom after they asked for a chicken sandwich to be left off their plate for kosher reasons.
Jonathan and Shayna Evans visited the Fourteas tea shop with their two-year-old daughter over the bank holiday weekend and had asked if the restaurant could remove some chicken sandwiches from a high tea plate they wanted to order.
The establishment refused, saying it could not accommodate “individual preferences”, even after the couple suggested they could swap it for cucumber, or simply pay full price for the tea and sandwich selection without a replacement for the two chicken sandwiches.
After mentioning that they would be putting this into their TripAdvisor review, the family say they were ordered to leave by the restaurant’s owner.
“The owner came over quite aggressively, saying: ‘I’ve been told you’re using the review to get what you want,’” said Mr Evans. “He said, ‘You need to leave the restaurant’. I said, ‘I don’t understand, all we’re asking you to do is accommodate our religious belief.’”
Mr Evans added: “It was very distressing. We were quite shaken up and felt like we were discriminated against based on our religious belief.”
When the family got home, they wrote a review on TripAdvisor about their experience. The restaurant responded that they were “seeking refuge behind imaginative cultural or religious reasons”.
In a now-deleted response, the restaurant said it would not tolerate what it called “the threat” of posting a “bad social media review” to impose “unacceptable and abusive behaviour” on staff.
It added: “We also regret that we cannot accommodate mindsets seeking refuge behind imaginative or cultural reasons to justify selfish and arrogant attitudes. Respect and appreciation works both ways!”
Mr Evans told Jewish News: “As far as we’re concerned they might’ve as well had a sign up saying ‘no Jews allowed’. That’s certainly how we were made to feel.”
In an updated statement on Tuesday, the cafe denied the family were asked to leave over the request for an adjustment.
It said it promoted inclusivity, and that it was working with the local Jewish community to resolve any concerns.
“Referring to the day in question, we would like to put on record that the family were asked to leave due to their behaviour and out of respect to the other customers,” it claimed.
David Baddiel, author of Jews Don’t Count, said: “I’m not, as regulars will know, religious in any way. But this, from a Stratford-Upon-Avon tea shop referring to a Jewish family who asked if they might have cucumber sandwiches rather than chicken, reads like a deeper antipathy than ‘no religious requests sorry’ is at play.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.