MORRIS, Manitoba, Canada — A gay couple in Canada said they are closing their Manitoba restaurant after just four months because of ongoing anti-gay abuse leveled against them and their employees by local residents.
Dave Claringbould, 35, said homophobia is forcing him and his partner to shut the doors of their “Pots N Hands” restaurant in the town of Morris, about 45 miles south of Winnipeg, reported the Winnipeg Free Press.
Claringbould, a 35-year-old chef originally from the United Kingdom, said that when he and his partner opened a restaurant in rural Manitoba, they knew some people might have a problem with them being gay.
But, he said, they were also not expecting “blatant ignorance.”
Claringbould said that once a group of regular customers found out they were gay, they stopped patronizing the restaurant; others, he said, verbally attacked them in their restaurant and around town.
“We were asked if somebody was going to catch something off of the plate because we had prepared the food on it,” Claringbould said.
“We were very hurt and upset by it. Some of the narrow-minded things that have been said to us are absolutely shocking,” he added.
The town council has also weighed in, expressing regret that the owners are closing their restaurant due to insults about their sexual orientation.
“The Town of Morris is saddened to be losing a business run by two very polite individuals, and especially under these circumstances. We appreciate the concern that has been voiced, but please remember that painting an entire town with the same intolerant brush is akin to the ignorance that made this front page news to begin with,” the town council said in a statement released Wednesday by chief administrative officer Brigitte Duerksen.
“People form opinions, towns do not. Towns are made up of diverse groups of people, and sometimes there are a few who do not understand how differences are what makes a particular town unique,” said the council in the letter.
But not everyone has expressed support; one local restaurant owner, George Ifantis, who runs George’s Burgers & Subs, said he has nothing against the Pots N Hands owners, but understands that some customers might be uncomfortable with their sexuality.
“A lot of people don’t like it,” said Ifantis. “You don’t know what they’re doing in the kitchen.”
The mayor and some town’s folk have offered the couple resources to help their business to stay open, but for Claringould it’s not enough to convince him and his partner to stay.
Most people in the community of 1,700 are not homophobic and have been welcoming, said Claringbould. But the others make it difficult to run a business and live there happily.
The couple plans to serve their last meal at the restaurant on April 13.