Kelsey Trevett, who has “no sight at all” after losing both of their eyes to a genetic cancer when they were a child, said they had gone inside the restaurant to ask for an outdoor table anyway
Picture: Kelsey Trevett)
A blind Oxford University student was left “shaken” after a popular local restaurant refused to seat them indoors because of their guide dog – despite this being a breach of the Equality Act.
Kelsey Trevett had visited Ramen Kulture on St Giles’ for the first time on May 25 for lunch with a friend.
The Japanese restaurant, which operates a strict no pets policy, said Kelsey would have to “sit outside” with the assistance dog, named Lacey, which left them feeling “frustrated” at the “discriminatory behavior” they felt they had experienced.
Recounting the day, Kelsey told Oxfordshire Live: “They see my guide dog and we went in to ask if we could sit down.
“The member of staff who we spoke to originally said ‘Oh, we don’t allow pets in’ which is quite a common response, especially if they haven’t looked closely.
“So I bring Lacey slightly more to my side to show that she has got her working harness on and it is quite obvious she is a guide dog.
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“He said ‘You can’t come in, you will have to sit outside because of the dog’.
“You get used to, as a guide dog owner, the usual spiel about the equalities law and the fact that’s not legal so I kind of explained that, and he said ‘Well, you are going to have to sit outside, we can’ t have you sit inside’.
“There was a couple sat on a table just inside by the door who saw what was going on and said ‘We are just finishing up, you can sit here if you want’ but the manager said no.”
Trevett, who has “no sight at all” after losing both of their eyes to a genetic cancer when they were a child, explained that they had actually gone inside the restaurant to ask for an outdoor table anyway, but upon hearing the inflammatory remarks, they decided they “didn’t want to stay” because they didn’t “feel very comfortable in a place that won’t accept my guide dog and won’t follow the law”.
Ramen Kulture insists that the incident was a “miscommunication”, and hope Trevett “can forgive” the restaurant’s “mistake”.
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In a statement provided to Oxfordshire Live, the restaurant owners said: “Our staff did not outrightly refuse entry to this customer, due to the limited spacing in our restaurant, the customer was asked to wait or sit outside before the table can be ready and we do believe this was miscommunication as English is also not his first language.
“Please note that this manager recently relocated to the UK less than a year ago from Hong Kong and was unaware of the laws that centered around the use of guide dogs.
“We hope that they can forgive his mistake.
“On behalf of us owners of the business we sincerely apologise that we offended this customer in any form and will work hard to ensure this never happens again. Learning from this experience we will take this to action actively and immediately [sic].
“After getting this feedback we have had an urgent meeting with all current staff to review the rules and guidelines information of access to food premises with guide dogs owners and we have established the information provided from the publication.
“We have also printed copies to put in the staff training file and in the manager’s office in case any of the staff is unsure.”
Trevett qualified for a guide dog in 2017, so has been a “confident and experienced” guide dog owner for nearly five years.