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UK restaurant defends autistic waiter after customers complain

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The fine dining restaurant is being praised for sticking up for an employee with autism. (Grenache Restaurant)

A U.K. restaurant owner is being praised for standing by a member of his staff who has autism after a table of customers complained about service.

On Wednesday, Mike Jennings, who owns Grenache restaurant outside Manchester, says a table of customers were rude to server Andy Foster, who suffers from autism.

“The customers seemed to have a problem with him, even though his service was good,” Jennings told Manchester Evening News.

“I explained that he suffered from autism and their response was that they didn’t want to be served by him.”

According to Jennings, Foster has been working at Grenache for three weeks and is a registered caregiver for his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

The table of patrons repeatedly asked Jennings why he would hire Foster. The restaurant owner was so surprised by the incident that he took to Facebook to condemn the actions of the customers who shunned his server and defend his decision to hire a waiter with autism.

“Here at Grenache, we employ staff based on experience, knowledge and passion... NOT the colour of their skin, or the way they look, how many tattoos they have, their dress size, religious beliefs or illness. We do not discriminate!”

Thoughts on an incident which occurred last night....Totally unacceptable.Strongly worded but we need to get our point across.#equalopportunities

Posted by Grenache Restaurant on Thursday, March 3, 2016

The post has been liked by 19,000 users and shared over 4,500 times. Thousands of people have commented, many offering support of Jennings' hiring policies and his decision to stick by his employee.

"Well done!! Too many "customers" think they have the right to treat hospitality staff (and owners) any way they want to. They are wrong!!" posted Dougie Lowe.

"Having never visited your restaurant I now fully intend to
I really love your work ethic & shame on the disgusting people who felt the need to ridicule one of your valued members of staff xx" said Paula Murphy.

“All we care about is someone having enthusiasm and passion. The rest we can teach,” Jennings said of his non-discriminatory hiring practices. He told Manchester Evening News that the incident rocked Foster’s confidence and he had to reiterate to his server that he and his wife do not share the views of customers.

Foster says that he has experienced discrimination due to his autism many times before but is grateful for the support of his boss.

“I try not to take it personally because it has happened so many times in the past I have just got used to it,” the waiter told Manchester Evening News. 

“The customers said they didn’t know I was autistic but I shouldn’t have to walk around with a t-shirt on explaining it. I should be treated fairly and exactly the same as everyone else in the restaurant.”