Hastings woman left ‘embarrassed’ at Bexhill cafe

Rebecca Morris-Smith
Rebecca Morris-Smith

A cafe owner has apologised after a customer claimed she was refused service because of her ginger allergy.

Sue Silva said she thought she was doing the right thing during the incident at Alfredo and Sue Silva’s Cafe in Western Road, Bexhill.

However, Rebecca Morris-Smith, 25, said the owner was ‘rude’.

She said: “I ordered a salad and informed the waiter of my allergy, for which I carry an EpiPen. He said it was no problem and told the kitchen.

“Five minutes later, the chef who I believe owned the restaurant came out and refused to serve me, using the words ‘people like you should stay at home’.

“This was done in a very public manner, in front of other customers and also my friends and family. She said this very loudly and went on for five minutes about how it’s ‘awkward for kitchens’ to cater for people who have gluten and nut allergies. I tried to say it was okay and that I wouldn’t have anything. She walked away from the table, only to return two minutes later and carry on. Suffice to say, I was so embarrassed my family and I left. I have never been refused service because of an allergy before, let alone be told that I should stay at home.”

Rebecca, who lives in Bedford Road, Hastings, said the incident happened between 1pm and 2pm on Saturday, April 16.

Cafe owner Sue said: “Allergies are quite a serious business and I was just trying to give advice, as I was concerned about the young lady.” She said she prepares more than 10 salads a day, most of which use ginger in various forms.

“We make all of our salads from scratch and instead of using a lot of salt I use pepper and spices,” Sue said.

Sue also said cafe and restaurant owners still had to be ‘very careful’ with allergies, even when everything used in the kitchen was thoroughly washed.

She added: “Even if people at the table next to you are eating a product you’re allergic to, it can cause trouble.

“I was concerned if the lady ate here there may have been an accident. I thought I was doing the right thing by advising her. I was only being honest. I think we were at cross purposes and I’m really sorry. We are a well-established business, having been in Bexhill for 11 years.”

Since the incident, Sue has compiled a list displaying all the ingredients used in the cafe’s dishes for the benefit of customers.

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