An Indian restaurant admits that it regularly turns away Asian diners because they are too much “hassle” and are liable to complain that the food is not spicy enough.
The Emperor of India refused to serve Moshinali Darugar, a businessman, and his wife, Rehmat, while they were in the Lake District celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, even though the restaurant was not full.
The manager said later that their menu was designed for the English who do not like their Indian food to be too hot.
After being turned away, Darugar went back to the nearby Royal Hotel in Bowness, Cumbria, where the couple was staying, and told the staff what had happened. Billy McCabe, the receptionist, then telephoned the restaurant anonymously to ask about availability and was told that there was plenty of space.
Maria Walker, the hotel manager, was incensed by what had happened, particularly as the hotel had recommended the Emperor of India to the Darugars.
She said: “I was shocked and disgusted and asked them what the problem was. I was told that they didn’t serve Asian people as they caused too many problems and English people were easier to look after.”
She added: “I said it was racist. We will certainly not be sending any other visitors there.”
Fozle Rabbi, the restaurant manager, who is from Bangladesh, denied any prejudice, saying the chef had recently cooked for five Indian guests and that the business had run successfully for five years. “The issue is not race. People from India and Pakistan complain about our food. They say it is not spicy enough. Our menu is for the English who do not like it hot,” he said.
He added: “We are very busy at weekends and holidays and do not have time for special dishes. It would be a load of hassle. We say we are fully booked if Asians ask.”
Darugar, who owns a watch and clock business in Milton Keynes, Bucks, has complained about the incident to the police, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Cumbria Tourist Board.
He said: “In a lifetime of foreign travel, I have never encountered such treatment. I have been in this country for 43 years and I have never been treated so badly. This ruined our holiday. It was special for our 65th birthdays and 40th wedding anniversary.”
He added: “It was our first trip in our new £64,000 Mercedes. My wife always wanted to go to the Lakes and I suffered a heart attack last year so this was to be very special. We are polite, professional people and we always say be respectful and be respected. We were smartly dressed that night so that was no problem.”
Darugar said: “It is absolute nonsense to say we are too fussy. In an Indian restaurant you have a choice of mild, moderate and hot. So what they are saying is rubbish.”
He added: “I wonder how many other people have been treated like this' I will pursue this until I die.”
Lisa McKenzie, a spokesman for the Commission for Racial Equality, said she was unable to comment on individual cases but the Race Relations Act covered incidents in pubs and restaurants.