The regional manager of an Inverness restaurant has hit back at allegations that the venue discriminated against a man with Down's Syndrome, insisting the version of events offered by the man's niece are a "distortion" of what happened.
Unhappy customer Claire Cumming, from Aberdeen, set up the Facebook page entitled "Boycott The Royal Highland Hotel", alleging that the establishment's adjoining restaurant, Ash, had refused to serve her uncle Mr Willie Forbes fish fingers from the children's menu.
In a message on the networking site, Cumming explained that the food was her uncle's usual meal, because of its small size, and maintained that Ash refused to serve the children's dish due to discrimination against Mr Forbes's disability.
The claims have caused a storm of negative responses to the hotel on social media, and a slew of bad reviews on ratings website Tripadvisor from internet users angry at the claims.
However, regional manager Indranil Banerjee disputed the allegation, saying that it was "distortion".
Speaking to Caterer & Hotelkeeper
"We see every human being as a human being, but they're either an adult or a kid, and that is that," Banerjee said. "The kids' menu is only for people under 12, as the prices are lower and the portions are very small."
Banerjee claims that the waiter had said the fish fingers order wouldn't be possible, but that an alternative of fish goujons, a dish on the adult's menu, cut into smaller pieces, had been offered. And yet, it's claimed that by the time the waiter had returned from the kitchen to check the fish goujon order, Ms Cumming and Mr Forbes had already left.
"We were surprised; they left without telling anybody," said Banerjee, disputing the claim that his restaurant had simply refused to serve the meal on discriminatory grounds. "What basis could we have in refusing food to somebody?" he said.
He added that he had been "humbled by the large number of supportive phone calls and emails" from former customers and local associations that the restaurant had received since the incident.
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