An owner of Old Montreal restaurant Pastel says the restaurant is facing an online campaign after a table of four customers was kicked out after one of the four allegedly harassed a server.
However, one of the customers from that table denies any harassment, and says that the table was kicked out because some of them were gay, and is accusing the restaurant of homophobia.
Pastel co-owner Kabir Kapoor says that last Saturday night, a table of four arrived somewhat late in the evening, were seated, and quickly ordered a bottle of wine. Kapoor says that one of the customers proceeded to make numerous sexually suggestive comments to a busser. After dealing with the table, according to Kapoor, the busboy approached Kapoor to say that he did not feel comfortable serving the table, that he felt violated and humiliated, and requested to go home.
Kapoor says the comments went on for about 15 to 20 minutes — he says while they weren’t explicit, they were suggestive and included comments on the gender of the employee, and invitations for him to sit on a guest’s lap, and that they crossed the line into harassment. After consulting other staff and a co-owner, he decided to eject the table from the restaurant.
“I said we’re giving you the bill [for the wine]...we have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of sexual abuse or harassment,” he said. “I [told them] I’m in a very tough position and I have to ensure security is paramount and if he doesn’t feel secure as my employee, I have no option.”
However, one of the customers, Ghislain Corriveau, says that one person at the table complimented the busser’s name, but did not go further. (Corriveau did not make the comments that resulted in the group’s ejection, but he has been vocal about the situation.)
“It was just a compliment, we never touched him,” he said. “They treated us like sexual predators...If it’s sexual harassment, you need to call the police.”
Kapoor says that while two members of the party were apologetic, and admitted fault, Corriveau became irate and stormed out of the restaurant. Eater has contacted one of the other diners at the table; however, he declined to speak publicly.
The host that night at the restaurant (whose name is withheld here, but whose identity has been verified) also said that the tone from Corriveau was quite aggressive upon his departure, and that upon their arrival, the group appeared to have been drinking.
Update (Jul 19): Corriveau tells Eater he was not drunk at the time of the incident.
The following day, Corriveau took to social media, recounting the story while also accusing the restaurant of homophobia for kicking the table of four out. In the post, Corriveau says that “my friend said gently to the server that he was a handsome man”, and that this was what prompted the ejection. The post suggests that there was no harassment, and that the expulsion was purely due to the sexuality of some guests at the table.
“It’s the first time I felt like a victim of homophobia in Montreal. A total insult,” said Corriveau in the post.
Speaking to Eater, Corriveau said that while no directly homophobic comments were made, he believes the expulsion from the restaurant was the result of homophobia.
“If the [busser] takes it as sexual harassment, it’s because he doesn’t like gay guys…he didn’t like the fact he had a compliment from another guy.”
Corriveau went on to say that he needed to defend his reputation after being kicked out of Pastel, hence why he took to social media and is considering approaching the police.
“I don’t want this guy to ruin my reputation, I have a perfect reputation, I don’t deserve it and my friends don’t deserve it.”
Corriveau’s post was made public and widely shared. It also included a screenshot of Kapoor’s personal Facebook account, and one of Pastel’s Google page. That resulted in numerous people leaving one-star reviews of the restaurant via Google, accusing it of homophobia. (It appears that Google has since deleted those reviews.) Kapoor says he has also fielded many Facebook messages resulting from the post. In the comments, Corriveau also added that he compliments “guys and girls” on their appearance regularly, and that he has “class and irreproachable conduct”.
Kapoor in turn took to Facebook, writing on the restaurant’s page that the restaurant has a zero-tolerance policy towards both harassment and discrimination.
Despite the accusation the following day, Corriveau did not raise the issue of homophobia to Kapoor at the time of the incident. He also stopped outside the restaurant to record a short video of himself, also posted to Facebook. In that video, Corriveau expresses anger at being ejected, but does not make any accusation of homophobia.
Kapoor says he thinks the accusations of homophobia are a cover for bad behaviour.
“It’s so terrible that people use [homophobia] as an out because it’s disrespectful to the gay community and to human rights in general, why are you using it as a means to your end of you getting kicked out of a restaurant?”
- All Pastel coverage [EMTL]