‘I Have the Right to Refuse Service’: Restaurant Owner Turns Away Group After He Learns What They Advocate
An Arkansas-based gay right’s organization is claiming discrimination after the owner of a restaurant cancelled the group’s reservations.
“It was a bump in the road, but it wasn’t a slap in the face,” River Valley Equality Center Director Erin Fowler tells ABC 4029, explaining that they had hoped to host a fundraiser at the restaurant.
Fowler claims Sisters Gourmet Bistro in Van Buren, Ark., cancelled their reservations after its owner discovered what the group stood for.
“I called them and told them that I — we’re not going to have that at Sisters, we had no plans for that and there were no reservations to hold any kind of fundraiser or anything like that,” said owner Richard Hodo.
“I told them that I do not support their cause, that if they want to do that that’s their business. I do not care, but I don’t support their lifestyle and their cause,” he added.
Hodo told an organizer with the River Valley Equality Center that he runs a private business and that he reserves the right to deny any group or person service — whether that means saying “no” to white supremacists or a gay rights group.
“What I told the lady on the on the phone, look I said if the KKK came here and wanted to hold a fundraiser rally and all that, I wouldn’t allow that either,” said Hodo.
“It felt like he was comparing us as equals with the KKK and we’re about completely opposite things,” said Sarah Sarrubbo, an organizer with the River Valley Equality Center.
Hodo says he refuses to back down.
“This is a private club and I have the right to refuse service to anyone,” he said.
The River Valley Equality Center says that because of this incident, and the dent it has put their fundraising efforts, they will stage an “awareness event” nearby.
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Featured image courtesy ABC 4029.
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