An Asian man and woman were allegedly subjected to racial discrimination and believe to be victims of “racial profiling” as they were refused a table at a popular restaurant chain.
Cote Brasserie is investigating claims by Dr Fatima Rajina, 30, a British-Bangladeshi woman, and Nasar Rahman, 28, a British-Pakistani man, alleging that they were refused a table at the restaurant in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
The restaurant allegedly told the two friends that it was “reservations only” despite having some empty tables. However, when Rahman called the restaurant after putting on a different voice, he was told that a table would be made available immediately.
Rahman said, “The man at the door looked me up and down really distastefully, and I found it rude. There were lots of empty tables for two but he instead they were fully booked. We went outside and Fatima said we had just been victims of racial profiling. I couldn't believe that would be the case in 2018 but I phoned the restaurant to see if I could get a table if I put on a white-sounding voice. Straight away, the woman on the phone said they had tables free and we should come within five minutes.”
A teaching fellow at SOAS, Dr Rajina said, “Both of us felt a mix of emotions: upset, angry and a deep sense of not being welcome because of our racial/ethnic backgrounds. I have experienced this before but it was the first time my friend experienced something like this. The incident reminded me of the famous signs from the '80s, 'No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs', just it was invisible yesterday.”
In a statement, the restaurant mentioned that it was Mothers' Day and they were forced to turn away “a number of people” who had not made reservations.
A spokesman for Cote Brasserie said, “We are aware of the incident and managing it directly with the guest. We are saddened to hear that someone who was turned away felt dissatisfied as a result. At Cote Brasserie we are proud to be an equal rights employer, counting over 120 nationalities amongst our team members. We have a strict zero tolerance policy against any form of discrimination, whether it be amongst our team or towards our guests. We strongly deny that there is a policy to refuse guests a table on any basis other than the restaurant being full. As such, we are taking this allegation very seriously and have also reached out to the guest in question to discuss the matter.”