HOUMA, La. – A 6-foot-3, 265-pound man says a restaurant overcharged him for his trips to the buffet line, then banned him and a relative because they're hearty eaters.
A spokesman for the restaurant denies the claim.
Ricky Labit, a disabled offshore worker, said he had been a regular for eight months at the Manchuria Restaurant in Houma, eating there as often as three times a week.
On his most recent visit, he said, a waitress gave him and his wife's cousin, 44-year-old Michael Borrelli, a bill for $46.40, roughly double the buffet price for two adults.
"She says, 'Y'all fat, and y'all eat too much,"' Labit said.
Labit and Borrelli said they felt discriminated against because of their size. "I was stunned, that somebody would say something like that. I ain't that fat, I only weigh 277," Borrelli said, adding that a waitress told him he looked like he had a "baby in the belly."
Houma accountant Thomas Campo said the men were charged an extra $10 each on Dec. 21 because they made a habit of dining exclusively on the more expensive seafood dishes, including crab legs and frog legs.
"We have a lot of big people there," said Campo, who spoke for owner Li Shang, whose English is limited. "We don't discriminate."
Labit denied ever being told he would be asked to pay more than the standard adult price.
The argument grew heated, and police were called.
The police report states, "The incident was settled when the management advised that the bill was a mistake and, to appease Ricky, the meal was complimentary."
Labit said he insisted on paying but was told not to come back. He complained that when seafood on the buffet line runs out, the restaurant only grudgingly cooks more.
Campo said the proprietress tries to reduce waste of quality food, he said.
"Food is for eating, not toys for your child," reads a sign posted on a wall in typewritten text. A handwritten addition reads "Or 20% added."