When Lydia Cawson decided to go out for dinner with her partner, she didn’t expect a simple show of affection to cause much of a problem. But that’s exactly what she says happened when she hugged and kissed her partner Ruby at Canteen London restaurant at London’s South Bank Centre.

Lydia said: ‘I didn’t notice any adverse reaction in the restaurant, myself. Then the lady came over to us and said “can you stop what you’re doing please? This is a family restaurant”.’

She added: ‘We didn’t feel like we were overly affectionate. Yes, it was an intimate moment, but consoling her and just a simple loving reaction. The second comment was that it was a family restaurant and it made me feel, “why does that matter? Is it because children are present – not that there were any children present at that time – anyway, why should it matter if it is a family restaurant?”

Lydia says that when Jones challenged the staff member, asking ‘Is it a family restaurant or a homophobic restaurant?’, she replied, ‘Oh no, no, no.’

The restaurant defended itself on Twitter, claiming, in effect that they can’t be homophobic because some of their best friends are gay.

They added that they ‘pride [themselves] on being a modern, equal opportunities, open and accessible business’, and that they ‘want everyone to feel welcome in [their] restaurants.’ However, they had not responded to a specific request for comment by the time of publication.

Update: The restaurant replied to our request for a comment, with a spokesperson repeating their comments that half of their staff are gay. They added: ‘We have investigated this incident in depth. In this case members of the team made a reluctant decision because they considered that the behaviour of the two people (rather than who the people were) might make others in the restaurant feel uncomfortable. This would have been the same whether it was two women, two men or a man and a woman. At Canteen, we pride ourselves on being a modern, equal opportunities, open and accessible business; we want everyone to feel welcome in our restaurants and we are sad and very sorry if Ms Cawson and her partner felt otherwise.

‘We are currently in communication with the two of them both via e-mail and over the phone.’


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