A restaurant in the Bronx fired an employee after a married gay couple accused her of denying them service because of their sexual orientation.
“We never knew this is how she was,” Elizabeth Ocasio, the manager of La Isla Cuchifrito, told Gay City News on January 26. “We let them know that they can come in anytime and that they can be safe in our restaurant.”
On January 15, the employee allegedly told Nelson Ayala and Jamel Brown, Jr. to leave the establishment after they were holding each other. In a cellphone video obtained by News 12, the worker repeatedly yelled, “Hombre, mujer” or “Man, woman.” The two men were then asked to leave.
The scene generated a flurry of media attention, though Ocasio insists it was a one-off case that was not representative of the restaurant’s values.
“It was just one lady, one incident, and we’ve never had problems like this before,” Ocasio said. “We can’t believe it. We don’t know what else to do. We’re upset at the young lady, we’re upset that this happened to us and this happened here. We didn’t want to be recognized this way.”
The couple, meanwhile, came out and denounced the incident.
“Now that we have to go somewhere and be kicked out because of our sexual preference is just mind-blowing,” Brown Jr. told Bronx News 12.
Ayala, who did not immediately respond to Gay City News’ request for comment, said his sexuality should not determine where he goes out to eat.
“I came here to get service, not to get judged,” Ayala told Bronx News 12, which reported that the couple canceled their order and called the police.
Ocasio said she notified staff that all people are welcome regardless of their sexual orientation. Management aapologized to the couple and offered them a free meal, but they are not accepting the apology.
“What is a free meal going to do? We are not hungry,” Brown Jr. told News 12. “We want them to know that they just have to train their employees more. Have them treat people with respect just like they would want to be treated with respect behind the counter.”
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