PHILADELPHIA — A widely shared video on social media showed a confrontation at a Northeast Philadelphia restaurant after a man claimed he was denied a drink because employees mistook his disease for drunkenness.
The man has ALS, which affects voluntary muscle movement and speech, but restaurant officials said they were not trying to discriminate, and there was a legitimate reason for the denial.
“It’s very hard to go through all that,” Dan Hare said.
Hare and his wife, just married in May, recently bought their first house in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania. In August, the 26-year-old was diagnosed with ALS.
Since then, every day is a new challenge for Dan and Bryanna Hare.
“Just to get dressed,” said Bryanna Hare. “Just to brush his teeth. Just to walk up and down the steps is literally a struggle for him.”
When Hare and his friends went to Las Margaritas in Holmesburg on Friday night, Sept. 13, he thought he’d grab a few drinks. Instead, he was denied service. The waiter thought Hare’s slurs were due to drunkenness, even though he did not have any drinks that night.
“It made me feel very helpless and almost, you know, like I didn’t deserve to be out enjoying myself,” Hare said.
Hare’s friends backed him up, and told the waiter about his condition.
The staff asked for proof, but Hare didn’t have any on him.
That’s when Hare’s wife came to the restaurant with a binder of medical papers. She was recorded shouting at the manager, describing Hare’s condition.
“You do not treat someone like that who’s handicapped,” Bryanna Hare said in the video.
The group eventually left the restaurant.
Las Margaritas’ owner said she thinks the Hares’ reaction was over the top. She added that her staff only denied serving Hare alcohol to protect the restaurant.
“They were very aggressive,” Vittoria Perez said. “If anything happens, we’re liable. We apologize if we hurt him in any way, feelings-wise, because if it was that he really has this disease, I feel bad.”
Still, Hare said he doesn’t plan on coming back.
“[For] someone can be treated like that, it’s horrible,” Bryanna Hare said.
Perez also said he was hopeful in the future the Hares could carry some kind of proof showing his condition.
The Hares said they asked that the staff be better trained.