The Brighton branch of the Touro Steakhouse micro-chain hit worldwide headlines this week after vegan activists from group Direct Action Everywhere stormed the restaurant – but what can you do if your dining hall becomes a protest rally?
Approximately 20 people entered the restaurant on Wednesday, initially walking in quietly as customers ate. One campaigner then began a speech to diners, saying ““No good person could look into the eyes of an animal and think that a meal was more important than their suffering.”
The protest then carried on for twenty minutes as the group played the sounds of animal slaughter and told customers to “listen to the screams”.
Customers and front-of-house members argued with the group until they eventually left to continue the protest on the street outside.
Jamie Lester, a partner in the dispute resolution team at Royds Withy King, said that while restaurant staff have clear rights in such situations, they may be “concerned about exercising them due to the adverse publicity should matters deteriorate”.
He added: “The particular restaurant in question handled the situation well from a PR perspective by not making a fuss.
“Were this to happen again, a brief quiet word with the individuals concerned agreeing not to cause a scene provided they leave within a set period of time would be advisable.
“A way to mitigate against such a scenario happening again in the future (and also act as a deterrent) would be for restaurants to operate a strict reservations policy and position staff at the entrance to check whether those seeking to enter have a reservation – and then to advise those who do not of the applicable wait times, asking them to wait outside or in a separate area away from the main dining room.
“Then, were a situation to arise, it can be addressed with a minimal fuss.”