Let me preface this by saying that I am gainfully employed. I spend my Saturday mornings volunteering and training with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. I travel over an hour by bus and subway to get from College Point to Astoria Park. While I’m generally wearing running attire, I am clean, neat and presentable. When I’ve gone in to the Neptune Diner to use the restroom on my way to Astoria Park, I have made it a point to buy a cup of coffee and a buttered bagel or something in return. That’s the way I was raised.
On Saturday, 1/14/2012, I had just finished logging mile 13.14 of my Nike+ Women’s Half Marathon to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. All I wanted at that point was a huge, juicy, bacon cheeseburger deluxe. I was so famished, I could’ve probably eaten everything on the menu and then some. But thanks to the owner of Astoria’s Neptune Diner, this was not to be. My crime? I was dining solo.
At 12:20-12:25pm-ish, I arrived at Neptune Diner in Astoria, and requested a booth for a party of one. I was told by both the owner and the manager that there would be a wait for a booth. I said that would be okay, since I had just finished a 13.1 mile half marathon, and was okay with sitting in the lobby and waiting. As I sat there, I watched as others who came in after I did got seated. This went on for another 15-20 minutes. I moved to another spot where I could see that booths were, in fact, being cleared. At that point, the owner motioned for a party of 2, who again came in after I had, and seated them in the cleared booth.
At 12:47pm, I asked the manager when I would be seated, and he said that there was nothing he could do, as it was his boss, the owner, who was the person handling the seating.
12:50pm I mentioned to the owner that I was about 5 minutes away from leaving. He said he was waiting for a small table to open up. I pointed at a booth with 2 people in it that was emptying. He told me that he could not seat me in a full booth, as it was very busy. I asked him “Isn’t my money as good as everyone else’s?”
At 12:55pm, I watched as yet another party of 2 (who arrived about 20 minutes after I did) was seated in a booth right in front of me, while I still remained unseated. I then walked over to the owner and said, “I just wanted you to know that you’ve just lost a customer.” I did not yell, nor did I raise my voice during this exchange. His response - “Okay, so I lost a customer!”
I want to be clear and say that the staff was not at fault here. This was definitely a case of the owner discriminating against the solo diner.