Stuff that matters

A vintage tearoom has been accused of kicking out a Jewish family after they requested non-kosher food be removed from their plates.

Jonathan and Shayna Edwards visited the Fourteas, in Stratford-upon-Avon, on their way home from a bank holiday weekend with their two-year-old.

They wanted to order a high tea, but without the non-kosher chicken sandwiches which came on the platter.

But the couple claim the establishment refused to swap the sandwiches for cucumber ones, even though they offered to pay the same price or even more for a different selection.

Jonathan, 37, claimed the teahouse refused because they could not accommodate “individual preferences”.

“We were made to feel uncomfortable and that we had been denied an experience we should have been able to have because of our religious beliefs,” Mr Edwards told WarwickshireLive.

“We gave them three options. One, to offer a substitute to the chicken sandwich or to just take it off and they said ‘no’.

“We then offered to pay a higher price for a different selection of foods, but for it to be presented in the traditional high tea server.

“It was not like we were saying ‘we don’t fancy the chicken sandwich’, we could not eat it because of our religious beliefs.”

The family posted a scathing review on Trip Advisor, which has since been removed from the site.

Zenios Loucas, the owner of the 1940s themed restaurant, has denied accusations of racism and discrimination, and says he has received a flurry of angry phone calls in response to the incident.

“The amount of phone calls we’ve had since this has gone public – threatening phone calls,” a spokesman said.

“We are going to start recording phone calls and try to get names because we are having people ring up and call us racist, threatening us and that’s not acceptable.

“That’s happening on a daily basis to the point where we couldn’t have the phone downstairs, we were having to answer it up here (in the manager’s office) because people were calling us racist and anti-Semitic.

“Just people being quite horrible and obnoxious.”

Mr Loucas said he was considering involving the police if the “serious” threats continued and that he was compiling evidence to support his position.

In a face-to-face interview with WarwickshireLive, Mr Loucas, who has 20 years’ experience as a hotel manager, vehemently rejected claims of racism and anti-Semitism.

Mr Loucas, who was born in Greece, alleged he had been “misunderstood”, and offered a very different version of events to Mr Edwards.

“We asked them (The Edwards family) to leave simply because of bad behaviour,” Mr Loucas said.

“Nothing else. They have converted the story into a story of discrimination, politics and racism which has nothing to do with us.

“I categorically deny any form of racism. I don’t need anybody to tell me racism is bad.”

Mr Loucas, who asked not to be pictured, added: “They (The Edwards family) came in without a booking. They were welcomed. We gave them a table and then, as always, a waitress went to pick up their order.

“They immediately requested our Ivor Novello Afternoon Tea which is a specific afternoon tea and a signature of the tearoom.

“It’s not a general afternoon tea, it’s an Ivor Novello Afternoon Tea, in the same way a chicken kiev is a chicken kiev or another dish that refers to a name. It refers to a specific presentation.

“Before anything else the lady said to the waitress ‘we don’t like what you have in there, we would like to change a number of items and if you don’t do it I will immediately put a bad review on Tripadvisor.

“Before anything else, before discussing, before telling us what the issue was. It was an immediate attempt to have the restaurant and the tearoom behave in a certain way so that we avoid a bad review.

“The manager explained we couldn’t change a specific presentation, but they could order any other item from the menu which would match their particular dietary preference.

“That was perfectly possibly to do. No, they insisted we take the items that they wanted and present them in a way we would present an Ivor Novello Afternoon Tea.

“That is redesigning my menu. On a Saturday afternoon when the restaurant is full of people we cannot simply do that, it’s not feasible or acceptable.

“They could order any other item and have it brought to the table. Why choose something you need to change when you can choose the items you need in the first place? This is how it was.

“The lady exploded. She started shouting and talking about fascism, the gestapo – all these things.

“That to me had nothing to do with it. We didn’t even know they were Jewish until she started shouting it to everybody.”