The news that a server at D.C.’s upscale Prime Rib restaurant “shamed” a gay couple by refusing their request for a single ice cream sundae with two spoons because it “doesn’t go with the ambience of the restaurant” went viral this week.
D.C. residents Ron Gage, 55, and his partner, Henry McKinnon, 58, set off an avalanche of media coverage by telling about their encounter with the Prime Rib waiter in a posting on Facebook, which was quickly picked up by the Washington Post.
The two told the Post they were having a pleasant time at dinner at the Northwest D.C. restaurant on Aug. 17 until they decided to share an ice cream sundae. They said they asked the waiter for two spoons.
According to the Post, Gage said the waiter startled the couple by replying that “he would bring it in two separate dishes. He said ‘It wouldn’t look right with two gentlemen eating out of the same sundae. It doesn’t go with the ambiance of the restaurant.’”
The two men were “speechless” and simply nodded to the waiter, Gage told the Post. They quietly ate their ice cream and left a 15 percent tip rather than the 20 percent they always leave at restaurants and did not say anything to the waiter or the management.
But the next day they grew angry at what happened and posted reports about the incident on Facebook and Yelp.
A Google search using Gage and McKinnon’s names and the name “Prime Rib” leads to dozens of news media reports of the incident, including news outlets throughout the U.S. and the United Kingdom and Canada.
Fox News reported the restaurant, which responded by firing the waiter, expressed concern that the news reports unfairly portrayed the Prime Rib as a place where blatant discrimination had taken place.
“What he said was stupid and it’s not us,” Larry Bravman, The Prime Rib’s maître d’ in Washington told Fox News. “We’ve been here for 40 years and if you look at the Yelp page the day before and the day before that, it’s all good,” he said. “This isn’t who we are.”
Fox News reports that Prime Rib received so many negative postings on its Yelp page that Yelp issued a “cleanup alert” and began removing all “news-motivated content” from the page.
James MacLeod, the restaurant’s manager, told the Post the waiter was from Bulgaria and English wasn’t his first language and it was possible he got confused about what he was saying.
“There’s no way we would condone anything remotely like this,” MacLeod told the Post.
The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Gage and McKinnon.