'It’s shocking': Shuswap residents rally around restaurant owner berated by customer
VANCOUVER -- When Jim Dunlop saw a Facebook video of a customer screaming profanity at the owners of the Chinese Garden restaurant in Blind Bay on Friday night because a takeout order took too long, he was outraged.
“It’s shocking to see that type of abuse,” said Dunlop, the owner of the Canoe Beach Cafe in nearby Salmon Arm. “The grace of the man that had the abuse hurled at him was to me unbelievable. I certainly am not strong enough to do what he did, which was to basically ignore the fool making the noise.”
Dunlop made his own Facebook post, encouraging people in the Shuswap region to place orders at the Chinese Garden.
“We can all be outraged and do nothing about it, or we can all do something good for this poor couple,” he said.
The president of the B.C. Restaurant Association agrees.
“It’s disgusting,” said Ian Tostenson of the tirade, which was recorded by another patron. “I hope that people in the Shuswap can rally behind that little business owner, because it’s really tough for restaurants right now.”
Staff at Mr. Mike’s in Langford were in tears last week after guests berated them for following COVID-19 rules and separating a large group. On Thursday, B.C. Premier John Horgan weighed in on that incident.
“To have idiots come in and be idiots is not acceptable,” the premier said.
“We had a situation in Kelowna last week where a family came in of seven, and they lost it because we want seven people and the answer is no, because we are following the rules of the provincial health officer,” said Tosentson. “And we will continue to follow them until we get out of this mess, because that’s the only way we can keep staff and our guests safe.”
The outbursts have prompted the restaurant association to launch a new campaign on Monday, which tells customers to be kind or stay away.
“If you can’t follow rules, stay home, period, ’cause we don’t want you,” said Tostenson.
And if food is taking longer, Dunlop says, there may be a good reason. He and his wife Joyce, who run the Canoe Beach Cafe together, are both immuno-compromised. She’s a three-time cancer survivor. So they’re not staffing up the way they normally would.
“We’ve gone down to one or two a day just to minimize our own contact, but people who walk up to the window, they don’t know that. This couple in Blind Bay are having a hard time hiring people. Those are the realities we face right now,” said Dunlop.
Tostenson hopes the support shown to the Chinese Garden will give other restaurant owners the courage to speak up.
“I think you’re going to see a toughening up here, you’re going to see restaurant owners with the confidence to say, ‘Get out,’” he said.
As for the unidentified man screaming in the now-viral video?
“I think that individual probably has some issues, but look at the bright side on this: he’s certainly been called out, that’s for sure,” said Dunlop.
“People are now more aware of the situations small little businesses like that one face,” he said. “So maybe, just maybe, the next person will take a little bit of a breather and go, ‘You know what? I’m still going to have Chinese food. I’m still going have a burger on the beach. Things are good.’”