Restaurant staff seeking proof of vaccination receive threats and name-calling

Bill Mahfouz, owner of Benny’s All Day restaurant, said a customer who could not provide proof of vaccination cursed staff and threatened to damage the property. (Brian Morris / CBC – image credit)

Bill Mahfouz arrived at his restaurant on Wednesday to find his longtime waiter struggling with an angry customer, who threatened to fill his van with bricks and return to destroy the restaurant which has been owned by Mahfouz’s family for over 30 years. .

The client did not agree to show proof of vaccination, which was required as of today.

“I’m still shaking, you know, at 8:30 in the morning to be touched by this. It’s annoying and seeing my staff having to deal with this, that was our biggest fear from the start,” Mahfouz said.

Restaurants, gyms and theaters are among the businesses in Ontario that now have to screen customers for proof of vaccination, and it wasn’t long before some reported conflicting customers who had to be turned away at the door.

Mahfouz owns Benny’s All Day restaurant in Rockland, just east of Ottawa. He says the showdown as early as Wednesday turned physical.

“As I jumped to help her, [the customer] grabbed the door and literally almost broke a swinging door, slammed it so loud and went outside and was just screaming and screaming, “Mahfouz said.

The man then threatened to return and damage other property.

“We are all for this vaccine passport. All my staff [are] vaccinated. But to give us the responsibility to control this thing is really, really difficult and unfair, ”he said.

The waitress, Julie Pratt, has worked at the restaurant for seven years and knows the customer well, serving them on several occasions. She said she was shocked to see the violent and threatening behavior.

WATCH | Restaurateur Bill Mahfouz on receiving threats:

Conflicting customers

Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association, said these types of customers remain the biggest concern of its members.

He advises members to ensure that the person working at the door relayed to customers that this is a government regulation that must be followed.

“It is not the employer or the employees who dictate the rule. There are significant fines associated with this regulation if they do not do their job,” Elenis said.

He thinks Ontario should offer some sort of compensation to restaurateurs who may need to hire more staff to respond to screening requests.

WATCH | The mayor of Ottawa asks people to be kind to the vaccination passport rules:

“Complaining … is not going to change the rules”

During the morning breakfast rush at The Thruway restaurant in Carleton Place, west of Ottawa, owner Bill Katsoulis said he turned down around 10 tables from people who couldn’t provide proof of vaccination.

While some left without a problem, Katsoulis said others became verbally abusive of the young hostess at the gate.

He said his parents opened the restaurant in 1977 and it was hard for them to see such unhappy customers, but they understand the rules are there for a reason.

“The rules that have been put in place are not only for the safety of our customers, it is for the safety of our staff and also for our safety,” said Katsoulis.

“Coming to a restaurant and complaining or anything isn’t going to change the rules. It’s not up to us, we just have to follow them.”

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson urged people to be respectful of young people working in industries that require them to ask for proof of vaccination.

“I hope we don’t have to rely on a city bylaw to tell an adult to stop yelling and berating an 18-year-old host or hostess at a restaurant or gym,” said Watson.

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