Two women have said that they were left feeling ‘incredibly angry’ and ‘shocked’ after they were asked to stop showing affection to one another in a well-known London restaurant.
According to the Evening Standard, Lydia Cawson, 29, was visiting the Royal Festival Hall branch of Canteen – which has outlets across London.
Cawson, who works as a wardrobe assistant at a London theatre, met her partner, Ruby Jones, a cabaret performer, for dinner last Thursday. She explained that the two had had a stressful week, having moved house, and because of this, Jones had become upset during the course of their conversation.
Because of her obvious upset, Cawson says that she moved around to be next to her partner; they had previously been sat on benches across from one another. She put her arm around Jones, gave her a kiss on the cheek and, ‘a light peck on the lips’.
Despite not noticing ‘any adverse reaction in the restaurant’, Cawson says that it was at this point that they were approached by a member of staff, who she believes to have been a manager. She told the couple to move away from one another.
In an interview with TV channel London Live, Cawson said: ‘I didn’t notice any adverse reaction in the restaurant, myself. Then the lady came over to us and said “can you stop what you’re doing please, this is a family restaurant”.’
Caswon says that the two women were ‘shocked’ to be asked to move apart.
‘We didn’t feel like we were being overly affectionate. Yes, it was an intimate moment, but consoling her and just a simple loving reaction.’
‘Why should it matter if it were a family restaurant?’
Cawson says that when Jones challenged the staff member, asking ‘Is is a family restaurant or a homophobic restaurant?’, she replied, ‘Oh no, no, no’.
‘She obviously wasn’t very appreciate of the comment,’ said Cawson.
A spokesman for the restaurant, which specializes in classic British dishes, told the Evening Standard that an investigation into the claims had been launched.
‘We have been already being in touch with the two guests that raised a complaint following their visit last week trying to get further details of the visit. We have apologized to them for any issues that this may have caused them and we have started a full investigation into these allegations.
‘At Canteen we train all of our staff and managers in Equal Rights and opportunities no matter the race, religion or sexual orientation.
‘We are very surprised and shocked to learn about this issue, which we have never encountered before. Nonetheless this has been taken extremely seriously.’