An upstate New York restaurant is facing backlash after it denied service to a blind woman who was with her service dog. Mary Beth Metzger attempted to dine at Hana Japanese Steak House in Albany on January 28, reports the Albany Times-Union, but the restaurant's manager repeatedly told her "no dogs."
Metzger told the Times-Union she had never been denied service in the area, but the manager apparently believed her dog would "scare the other customers." Lui Cheng, the manager who refused to seat Metzger, told the paper he believes patrons with service dogs should be served "only in separate rooms, away from other customers." The Americans With Disabilities Act disagrees with Cheng's assessment.
Metzger said she wants the restaurant to take steps to remedy the issue — "a quick apology, a sign [stating service dogs are welcome], a training session for the staff" — but Hana reportedly hasn't budged in the weeks since the incident.
Metzger reportedly called the police, and Cheng told officers he offered to seat her in a private dining room. But witnesses told the Times-Union that offer came only after the officers arrived. Earlier Monday, following some negative media attention, the restaurant posted an apology on Facebook.
Hana Japanese Steakhouse genuinely apologizes for Ms. Metzger's experience. The manager's actions were not in accordance with company policy and have caused great embarrassment to our establishment. Hana Japanese Steakhouse and the manager have since parted ways. Since Hana opened in 2009, the company's policy has prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and disability. Prior to the article, Hana had been in contact with Ms. Metzger's representative to coordinate a formal training session to further educate our staff about the Americans with Disabilities Act, including how to better serve owners and their service dogs. On behalf of Hana Japanese Steakhouse, we offer our sincerest apologies and we will make an ongoing effort to maintain a welcoming environment for all guests. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.
Restaurant patrons with visual impairments run into issues because of their service dogs all too often. A former police officer and his dog were asked to leave a California restaurant last year, and it's not only an American problem. A woman and her dog were kicked out of a Norway McDonald's in August.