The owner of a restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi has apologized after being accused of kicking a customer out of his establishment last week after learning he was Jewish, local media reported.
WAPT reported that John Ellis, owner of the local restaurant Wraps, met Friday and shook hands with Rabbi Ted Riter in what the station described as a “salad summit,” referring to the lunch menu-related allegation.
The alleged incident occurred last Tuesday when Riter headed out to Wraps for a salad.
Riter said a man he believed to be the owner replied, "A full size or a Jewish size?"
When asked what he meant by that, Riter said the man said, "It's small. Jews are cheap and small. Everybody knows that."
Riter said he was incredulous, and that he thought perhaps he might have heard him wrong, so he said, "Did you really just say that?" and the man asked him if he was a Jew. When Riter said yes, he was told to leave the restaurant.
"Expletives, F-bombs, and since I'd never been the recipient of that before, I was in shock, so I didn't register it until the second or third time he told me to leave," Riter said. "It was a bit surreal. So I left."
Owner John Ellis told WAPT that it was all a misunderstanding due to his Greek accent and that the restaurant sells both a Greek salad and a “Jewish salad.” However, the station later checked both the menu in the store and online and discovered that no “Jewish salad” had been listed as a menu option until after the alleged incident.
Owner Ellis told WAPT, “We have different salads. We have Carlito's Way Salad. We have Grecian Salad. We have Jewish Salad. We have Greek Salad. We have Cesar Salad -- we have a lot of salads. Names of salads derive from people; they don't derive from the sky."
Ellis said a Jewish salad contained French-fried potatoes, feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and mint.
At their meeting Friday, Ellis offered to name a salad after Riter, but the rabbi turned down the offer, WAPT reported.
Riter told the Clarion-Ledger that he did not identify himself as a rabbi when he placed his food order.
"I didn't think it was pertinent. I'm the person who's coming in to buy lunch. It shouldn't matter if I'm Jewish, if I'm a Rabbi," he said. "We need to get past this place of distrust. It really has no reason for still existing in these modern times, and perhaps it never had reason to exist, but particularly now in these times.”
Riter said he moved to Jackson in July and that his reception in town has been overwhelmingly positive, unlike the restaurant incident.
"It's so diametrically opposed to the reception I've received here from the greater Jackson community," he said. "I really I love it here. It's been a great community, and it still is."
"The rabbi seems like a nice person. I hope we can be friends, see eye to eye and have peace and harmony," Ellis said after they met on Friday.
Watch the report on the "salad summit" from WAPT: