Restaurant owner bans WI member after row over burger
PUBLISHED: 13:16 25 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:40 26 September 2020
Members of the Women’s Institute are renowned as the very epitome of politeness and for many the only time they would dream of raising their voice would be to join in with a rousing rendition of group anthem Jerusalem.
But one Norfolk member has landed herself a lifetime ban from a Norwich bar after a spat about an allegedly burnt burger.
Marcus Pearcey, who runs the Oak Bar and Terrace at the Oaklands hotel in Yarmouth Road, has slapped the woman with the ban after she demanded a refund for the burger even though she had eaten the lot.
And that wasn’t the first row the woman and her dining companion got in to after initially being annoyed at having to eat outside because of coronavirus restrictions.
When staff refused the refund the woman placed an aggressive review on ratings site Tripadvisor – since removed by moderators – and her husband even returned a day later to continue the argument. And in a further escalation the woman then visited Mr Pearcey’s farm shop in Blofield.
The incident has sparked an internal investigation by Norfolk WI and has led to Mr Pearcey speaking out about the treatment his staff have to face.
The bar’s boss said: “I’m pretty sure how this member behaved is not part of the WI values my nan believed in.”
And Norfolk WI chairwoman Margaret Collingwood added: “We would never condone rude or insulting behaviour and we have been in communication with Mr Pearcey to convey our express sadness at such an incident.”
Mr Pearcey, who let rooms at the Oaklands free to NHS staff as well as donating food and blankets to homeless people during lockdown, said: “What has upset me so much is the context of this. We are trying so hard, we lost 40-50 covers from the latest government restrictions and yet this couple were so rude.
“They didn’t want to sit outside so we accommodated them inside, they wouldn’t use the Covid app to order, so we gave them a normal menu. They belittled our choice of wines and then after they’d eaten the burgers, and drank all the wine, they wanted their money back.
“She said she was a member of the WI in Norfolk so I rang the WI and complained and told them that she should stay away. She thought she could crush my business at a time when we are struggling but she is banned and so is her husband. Try walking into a surgery and talking to a doctor like that – people seem to think they can be as rude as they like in the hospitality industry. It’s time we took the same zero tolerance to abuse as other places of work.
“Let us know mistakes have been made but be polite and kind and you will be amazed at how much we want to solve your problem.”
The incident follows Norfolk chef Galton Blackiston defending his staff after an incident with a customer at his fish and chip venue, No 1 in Cromer. And Brad Baxter, owner of Gonzo’s bar in Norwich, recently hit back on social media after a customer complained she was not allowed to take her dog to the roof terrace.
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