UK Politics

British-Asian pair refused a table at popular restaurant ‘because of their race’


British-Asian pair refused a table at popular restaurant 'because of their race'
Fatima Rajina spoke out about the incident on Twitter (Picture: PA)

A man and woman believe they were victims of ‘racial profiling’ when they were refused a table at a popular restaurant chain.

Cote Brasserie is investigating the claims by Fatima Rajina and Nasar Rahman that they were turned away from the diner in Welwyn Garden City, near St Albans.

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Mr Rahman, who is British-Pakistani, and Dr Rajina, who is British-Bangladeshi, said they were told it was ‘reservations only’ – but some tables were empty.

However, Mr Rahman, from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, said that when he called the restaurant and put on a different voice, he was told a table would be available immediately.

He said: ‘The man at the door looked me up and down really distastefully, and I found it rude.

Picture: Google Maps Cote Brasserie racist complaint
The pair said they were ‘looked up and down’ before being turned away (Picture: Google)

‘There were lots of empty tables for two but he insisted they were fully booked.

‘We went outside and Fatima said we had just been victims of racial profiling.

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‘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.’

Mr Rahman, 28, then challenged the woman and asked if he was refused a table because of his race, but said the woman hung up.

So, a friend and I just got turned away from Cote Brasserie in Welwyn Garden City. The waiter said it’s reservations only but my friend and I knew there was more to the story. We saw empty tables for two around the restaurant. However, we walked out and he decided to call ‘em up.

— Fatima (@FBRajina) March 11, 2018

He calls ‘em and puts on a white accent and asks them if there’d be a table available and we were offered a table within 15 minutes. He switched back to his normal, working class accent and asked her why this wasn’t offered to him when we walked in just a few mins ago.

— Fatima (@FBRajina) March 11, 2018

She sounded flustered over the phone after he explained that he’ll be making a complaint and she offered a table straight away if we turned up asap. POC will get this: we have this instant gut feeling when we are mistreated because we are POC and this was one of those moments.

— Fatima (@FBRajina) March 11, 2018

We are both quite upset and just sat in the car but this isn’t the first time I have experienced this. My friend’s not taken it too well. We both have tried to not see it from that perspective but my goodness…it hurts. #racism

— Fatima (@FBRajina) March 11, 2018

Dr Rajina, 30, a teaching fellow at SOAS, added: ‘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.

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‘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, Cote said restaurants were forced to turn away ‘a number of people’ who had not made a booking on Mother’s Day.

A spokesman 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.

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‘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 further.’

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