The Majestic Responds To Preston Craig’s Accusations
Several days ago, a local DJ and blogger named Preston Craig wrote a piece for his blog, kissatlanta.com, accusing the operators of The Majestic diner on Ponce De Leon Avenue of mistreating him because he uses a wheelchair.
His blog entry was subsequently reproduced on ATLBloggers.net and excerpted on this blog by Metblogger Lori.
Because of the seriousness of Craig’s accusations (basically, that The Majestic illegally and cruelly discriminated against him because he uses a wheelchair), I thought it fair that the operators of The Majestic be given a chance to tell their side of the story in the same public forum.
I e-mailed and spoke to The Majestic’s co-owner Tasso Costarides. Costarides was not present at either of the incidents, but he made several very important points:
Costarides says that The Majestic’s main door has a ramp for wheelchairs and that there’s seating near the front of the restaurant that can accomodate customers using wheelchairs. Despite the restaurant’s front ramp and wheelchair accessible seating, Preston Craig twice entered the restaurant via a rampless emergency fire exit that was clearly marked Stop and Emergency Exit Only.
Costarides says that Craig’s rudeness to the staff, combined with his disregard for house rules by entering through the emergency exit, got him banned from the restaurant over a year ago. He was told by police to never come back.
Despite Craig hearing rumors to the contrary, Costarides says that the ban was still in place when Craig returned recently (through the same emergency exit). According to Costarides, the restaurant staff reminded him of the ban and that he broke the rules by entering (and subsequently exiting) through the fire door. The restaurant did not call the police, even though Craig was, at that point, trespassing.
In addition to his own statement, Costarides also provided me with an e-mail statement from Lucas Power. Power was the night manager at the time of the first incident that Mr. Craig describes.
Power says that Craig and his party were offered wheelchair accessible seating, but that they refused it because it was non-smoking. He also says that Craig was verbally abusive.
Here, in full, is Power’s statement:
This guy has a very selective memory. In all the nights I spent working at the diner, no one was ever turned away at the door. The exception to this rule would be someone without shoes, someone covered in blood, or someone previously banned for some out-of-line behavior.
The night in question has two precursors. First, when Preston was told we could accommodate him in either the first four-top or at the counter. This is when he opted not to stay.
The second is the incident that he claims kept him away for three years. The actual chronology is more like a year and half or two, tops.
On that night, Preston had a table full of friends in the smoking section (the back of the dining room). Again, he was informed of his seating options, and even was explained the rationale — the aisle is too narrow, the side door is a fire exit. We even offered to move the entire party up front, across a couple booths, so he could still sit with his friends.
It’s worth noting that his friends refused to move because they wanted to stay in the smoking section. In the end that simply wasn’t good enough. Despite the fact that we told him no one was allowed to use the fire exit as an entrance, he still went around to the side and got someone to let him in. When we saw that he had used the fire exit to get in and would certainly have to use it to leave, we decided to just ask him to leave altogether. Not because he was in a wheelchair and we were all draconian, but because he had blatantly broken a rule of the house.
When we asked him to leave, Preston got very belligerent and started making a scene. This is when we were accused of discriminating against him.
By becoming abusive toward the staff, Preston broke a second rule of the house. He informed us that he would not be leaving and that we would have to call the police. When the cops arrived, events unfolded as they do each and every time someone refuses to leave. The police calmly explained that he would have to leave as we requested, and furthermore issued a verbal, criminal trespass warrant.
On third shift, almost everyone is out trying to have a good time. Some people get out of hand and the only way to maintain any semblance order is to stick hard to a few basic rules. If a customer chooses not to respect our rules, then we choose not to serve them. It’s very simple.
Not one angle of this incident makes Preston a pioneer. If anything, it makes him overly sensitive.