A blind Mansfield man says he was left ‘absolutely gobsmacked’ after being turned away from a Chinese restaurant because his guide dog would cause hygiene issues.
Nathan Edge was first told there was an issue with space at the Shangri-La restaurant on High Street in Mansfield Woodhouse, despite booking a table beforehand.
But after speaking with the manager, he was then told that he and Hudson could disturb other customers.
Just days before, 21-year-old Nathan, who has been fully blind for more than two years, because of uveitis, had been to Parliament to support the Access All Areas campaign which looks to stamp out discrimination involving people with guide dogs.
“I was one of the few fortunate ones who hadn’t faced an access refusal and could only imagine how devastating it must feel to be refused,” he said.
“At first the waitress said that there was a space issue, even though we had booked, which was no problem for us as we were more than happy to wait.
“But then the manager came out to say that it was actually a hygiene issue and Hudson would disturb other customers.
“I’m absolutely gutted to have been treated like this, especially as there are so many other establishments in the area who go above and beyond to make us feel welcome.
“I was incredibly passionate about the Access All Areas campaign before, but even more so now after experiencing how hurtful it actually is.”
Nathan and his girlfriend Emma were so shocked that they even recorded the conversation with a male and a female member of staff.
She can be heard saying that nothing was mentioned on the phone about Hudson, and that due to the confined space, they would need to be told in advance.
The male worker can then be clearly heard saying Hudson was not allowed in for hygiene reasons.
Nathan then tells the manager that it is illegal to turn away guide dogs and even says they have taken Hudson there before without a problem.
James White, senior campaigns manager at Guide Dogs said: “We were shocked to find out Nathan had been turned away by a restaurant. It’s always distressing to be illegally refused access by a business. It can knock people’s confidence and prevent them from living independently.
“Sadly these illegal refusals are far too common, with research showing that seven out of ten guide dog owners have been turned away because their dog isn’t welcome. Guide Dogs is campaigning to change this.”Jason Liu, manager of the restaurant has since spoken to the Chad and said the issue had been a misunderstanding.
“We would like to make it very clear that we have no issues accepting guide dogs in our restaurant. On Saturday evening, as always, our restaurant was extremely busy when Mr Edge and his party arrived with their guide dog.
“We are well aware that guide dogs are highly trained companions, which require space to sit close to the person they are helping, therefore, in our opinion sufficient space is required.
We have no issues accepting guide dogs in our restaurant.
“The two issues mentioned in the video, both hygiene and space were of concern to the manager and staff. Space for Mr Edge and his party, as well as comfortable space and hygiene expectations for our other customers need to be taken into consideration.
“We would like to reach out to Mr Edge and his party and apologise for any misunderstanding and ill-feelings caused.”