Friday, March 28, 2008

The following is a press release from OCAP, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. It is about a recent picket of a Toronto restaurant that refuses to serve people in wheelchairs.

Media Release: Disability Rights Activists Picket Discriminatory Queen St Restaurant‏

Media Release
- For Immediate Publication -
Disability Rights Activists Picket Discriminatory Queen St Restaurant
Friday, March 28, 2008
Aaron Shelbourne is a disability rights activist and a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). He has Cerebral Palsy and uses Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC), which involves using his eyes to communicate and the facilitation of an assistant.
Mr. Shelbourne went to Everest Restaurant on Queen St today to demand an apology from management that has told him they don't serve customers in wheelchairs, and asked him never to come back. Mr. Shelbourne was joined by 20 supporters today. Mr. Shelbourne entered Everest asking to speak with restaurant manager Karma Sanchok who had previously told him they don't serve people in wheelchairs. Mr. Shelbourne sought a public apology from Ms.Sanchok and the restaurant, and a promise that this kind of blatant discrimination would not continue. Ms. Sanchok refused to speak or engage with Aaron in any way, speaking only to his non-wheelchair-bound supporters and quickly retreating behind the counter refusing to apologize or speak directly to Mr. Shelbourne as a fellow human being. Ms. Sanchok proceeded to call the police to forcibly remove Mr. Shelbourne and his supporters from the restaurant.
Mr. Shelbourne's simple, just request for an apology was rudely ignored.This is unacceptable, and Mr. Shelbourne is not prepared to allow this kind of discrimination to continue unchallenged. He calls on supporters, allies and members of the public – especially those using wheelchairs – to go to Everest Restaurant and demand an explanation from the management!
Mr. Shelbourne and his supporters and allies will be back at Everest en masse in the near future, to pursue Mr. Shelbourne's just request for an apology and to ensure that this restaurant does not discriminate against people with disabilities with impunity.
Last week, Mr. Shelbourne went to Everest Restaurant & Lounge with one of his assistants. They had a meal, and at one point he had to use the washroom. It was not accessible and he nicked the door with his wheelchair going in.
As Mr. Shelbourne and his communication assistant were leaving the restaurant, after paying for their meals, the restaurant manager pulled Mr.Shelbourne's assistant aside and informed her that they were not welcome back. She said that the restaurant was newly renovated and wheelchairs aren't welcome because they cause damage.
"I am a person," says Mr. Shelbourne. "The worker at the restaurant didn't even come to tell me all of this herself but went to my assistant instead.I was angry because I am a human being and I have rights."
This Friday March 28th, with the help of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and DAMN2025, Mr. Shelbourne returned to Everest Restaurant to seek redress, to send a loud message to management, its customers and the public that people who use wheelchairs have rights and this type of treatment is discriminatory and unacceptable!
Says Mr. Shelbourne: "I am demanding a public apology from the management of the restaurant. I want them to acknowledge that I am a person and that because I use a wheelchair, that doesn't make me any less of a person. If they don't like scratches on their bathroom doors they should make the washroom accessible!"


Anonymous said...

I am the owner of Everest and want to get the record straight on the incident that caused this problem and clarify our position and policy.
The wheelchair customer and assistant came to the restaurant and used the restaurant washroom and carelessly caused a big gouge on our new door and newly renovated restaurant. It was not just a minor scratch. All of our staff that were on duty during the incident can verify this incident and damage caused. My wife noticed the damage and immediately told the assistant that she had damaged the door and told her that she should have been more careful. The assistant didn't even apologized just walked away. We have the right to address customers who cause damage to our property even if it is un-intentional but due to carelessness or recklessness. And if it un-intentional, we atleast expect an apology. We have nothing against wheel-chair patrons, infact we have many good wheel-chair regular customers. In-fact this patron has been at our restaurant in the past. If we discrimate against them, why would he come back.
Then this wheel-chair person and assistant brought a group of people in wheel-chairs and protested during our peek lunch hour and told customers not to eat at our restaurant. The police who we didn't call but were at the scene came in and told us that if you don't want the group to enter the restaurant, we have the right to not let them in. Ofcourse during lunch hour, we didn't want this disruption. The police asked us do you want the group inside, and we said no so the police escorted few who entered out of the restaurant. This action had nothing to due with not wanted wheel-chair customers. We only don't want ones that intentionally disrupt our business are not welcome.
Before organizing this protest, a representative of the group should have first called or come in peacefully and discussed the incident in a civilized manner. We would have explained the incident so that our side of the story was heard, too. We could have easily resolved everything between this one wheel-chair customer and his assistant and us. By no means are we directing our words towards any group.
We are now more upset then even before with this blog on the internet. It is a shame that people don't get the whole story and the facts before jumping to conclusions such as this writer.

mollymew said...

Ì appreciate your response,and Molly notes your responsibility. Should I ever visit Toronto( or recommend something to another visitor) your restaurant is NOt "òff my list". Still, I think that the question of "accessibility" of your restaurant has not been answered by your reply. I am fairly far from being "disabled". Yet, but I can see such a thing in my fuure.

I urge you to settle as best you are able by a simple premises modification. The cost of this (I am a small businessman too) is far less than the "bad publicity" that has been your lot so far. I would also suggest, that once such modifications have been made that you could get no end of "free advertisiing" by saying that you have done such.
Hey Guy or Girl, I'me doing you a big favour by telling you HOW to get free advertising, something that every restaurant wants. How about you listen to me. Forget the defensiveness and play up your response. There are mega bucks there if you play it right.

Anonymous said...

My response to this Owner is that if they are not spiteful towards individuals who use wheelchairs, then perhaps he should inform the female manager on the YouTube video how to talk to these people, and how to speak in general. Her words and statements were hurtful and implied that the restaurant does not want wheelchair-able persons in their establishment.

The problem here is not the accessibility of the restaurant; it is one female manager's response to damage done, her treatment of these patrons, and the language used. My question to you, Anonymous Owner, is what if this were a woman with a baby carriage who caused this damage? It would appear that this female manager let her emotions get the best of her and acted unprofessionally and RUDE. I for one know that I do not want to go to this establishment, and I have read mostly BAD reviews of your service severely lacking in the respect and politeness category.

Anonymous said...

After seeing the managers response I am conviced they do not deserve to be in business. My hope is that they do eventually apologize and make their restaurant wheelchair accessible.

The owner's response is a joke. He just makes himself look worse. What a dummy!!!

Anonymous said...

I wonder how a newly renovated resto gets around building code regarding accessibility?

Anonymous said...

For the owner of Everest:

"My wife noticed the damage and immediately told the assistant that she had damaged the door and told her that she should have been more careful. The assistant didn't even apologized just walked away."

Actually, your wife did not say that. She said something more along the lines of "we do not want you back here. Our restaurant is new, and not appropriate for wheelchairs. Wheelchairs have caused damage here before, and we don't want them." She did NOT "immediately" talk to the assistant or say anything about a scratch on the door. She instead waited until everything was paid for and did not approach Aaron with the purpose of asking about reparations for any damage to the restaurant, but made statements describing how wheel-chair users are explicitly NOT welcome in the restaurant. Perhaps she could have at least tried to mask this discriminatory attitude by making some attempt to be professional, with the smallest ounce of compassion. It's too bad that it's only now that she realizes her mistake and has decided to make it about the damage to the bathroom door, or, according to the video, about the assistant and 'nothing to do with' Aaron- who was not coincidentally ignored during both encounters.

Anonymous said...

Hello Everest Owner person,

if you have many people in wheelchairs as patrons as you say above, why don't you have wheelchair accessible washrooms?

How's business since since incident? Free advertising is the best kind, isn't it? :-)