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Friday, February 06, 2009

"No Guide Dogs Allowed"? Plaka Restaurant, Durban

Today I attended the Casual Day function in Port Elizabeth and was surprised to hear how a certain restaurant owner treats people with guide dogs. Since 1996 the organisers of Casual Day have used this day to raise money for the handicapped in South Africa. From that first year when they raised less than R1 Million to last year when they raised in excess of R15 Million. All that money goes to NGO's who treat and assist handicapped people in South Africa.

As part of the process they travel through South Africa and give talks in our largest cities. This year they did so again and the main speaker was Barry and his guide dog Vixen who entertained us today and did so as well earlier this week in Durban.

I was really surprised to hear about what happened to them in Durban. Barry went with Annelise De Jager to a Greek Restaurant in Durban called Plaka. Here they were confronted upon entering and told that they were not allowed to enter the restaurant with the guide dog Vixen. Of course they assumed it was a mistake and they proceeded to explain to the manager that Barry was in fact blind and that Vixen was his guide dog. Annelise went so far as to show the owner paperwork to prove Barry was blind and that the dog (with the obvious guide harnass attached) was a licenced guide dog. Still the manager insisted he would not allow a dog in his restaurant and offered to give them a table on the pavement!

Who would have though that in South Africa, now, one still finds people with such an attitude. If I was in Durban I would definately not dine in Plata Restaurant again. The best part of the story though is that when they arrived in Port Elizabeth somebody suggested to them that the best restaurant in town was El Greco, also Greek. Having been embarrassed in Durban they decided to phone first and ask if guide dogs were allowed in the restaurant. The manager of El Greco said he would love to have them come over, welcomed them with open arms and even brought Vixen a bowl of water!

I know where I will eat next time I visit Port Elizabeth.

I did some research and found this article in The Bugle.

Dear Ed,
We had a traumatic experience at Plaka Restaurant, Umhlanga (opposite Gateway) last Friday night. The night after the Top Billing review, the service we received was shocking and the food was terrible - unlike what was shown on the programme. Further more, after we complained about the food, the ill-tempered Durban owner David (Angelo was on the show) did nothing to try and resolve our problem. In fact he was arrogant and abrupt with us, and went on to insult us to other customers - commenting on what we expected if we ordered cheap meals (Prawns are not cheap!) We gave him an opportunity to make things right by inviting him to our table to talk, but his attitude worsened and this was followed by him jumping up and swearing at us in front of all the patrons to "F, Off! This was followed by further swearing and verbal abuse until we were aggressively escorted out as if we were criminals. We paid our bill of R900.00 and advised him that we would not be back and the reply we received was that they did not need our R900 to stay in business. In our company we had an elderly lady and younger girl and we were all extremely distraught about this.
We demand a public apology from PLAKA for the humiliation we received and do not intend to ever go back there again. Everybody who has heard about the incident is shocked and in the interim we have heard of further obnoxious behaviour from David towards other customers where they have been rudely turned away from Plaka because of their clothing.
Many thanks
I strongly urge Durban Residents to spread the word about this place.