A high-end restaurant is facing flak on social media for allegedly refusing to allow a woman entry because she was dressed in a saree.
In a Facebook post, Anita Choudaary alleged she was not allowed to enter the Aquila restaurant at Ansal Plaza here on Sunday, because she was wearing a saree. The post has since gone viral.
"In one of the restaurants in Delhi, saree is not considered to be a smart outfit. The restaurant''s name is Aquila. We argued over saree, and a lot of excuses were made, but I was not allowed to enter the restaurant, because the Indian attire -- saree is not a smart outfit.
"I have never been insulted like this. I also feel hurt," she wrote.
She also posted a short video of her argument with the restaurant staff, alongside a couple of pictures of herself in the saree. Following the viral post, the restaurant, which has been at the receiving end of a massive backlash, on Wednesday claimed that the incident was misrepresented.
Choudaary, according to her Facebook profile, is a creative director at Doordarshan National.
After Choudaary's post went viral, the restaurant, having a unique decor, received heavy backlash with people calling the eatery out on social media as well as food aggregator platforms like Zomato.
Calling the restaurant's behaviour "bizarre", a Twitter user wrote, "Who decides sari is not 'smart wear'? I have worn sarees at the best restaurants in the US, UAE as well in UK. No one stopped me. And some Aquila Restaurant dictates a dress code in India and decides saree is not 'smart enough'? Bizarre (sic)."
Another user wrote her mother had worn a saree even to the Alps.
"Aquila resturant in Delhi stopped a lady from entering as she wore saree, which according to them is not a smart wear. Shame on you Aquila resturant . My mom wearing saree on the top of Alps. They didn't stopped her for what she was wearing (sic)," the user tweeted.
The restaurant has also been receiving negative reviews on Zomato, particularly in relation to this incident.
"Restaurant not smart enough! Staff horrible (look at my dress before allowing me in!?!) Food was horrible," a reviewer on Zomato wrote.
Responding to the allegations, the restaurant on Wednesday took to Instagram to clarify their side of the story.
According to them, the "10 second" clip posted by Choudaary was part of a conversation that lasted for "one hour".
"We chose to stay silent till now and have been patiently watching the situation related to the incident that took place at Aquila on September 19 unfold.
"A guest visited the restaurant and was politely requested to wait at the gate as there was no reservation under her name. However, while we discussed internally as to where we could seat them, the guest entered the restaurant and began to fight and abuse our staff. What unfolded after was beyond our imagination, with the guest slapping our manager," the restaurant wrote on its Instagram post.
It has also added CCTV footage of the incident, as well as a separate video where women wearing sarees are entering the restaurant.
According to the restaurant, the comment on saree not being a "smart casual" outfit in the video shared by Choudhary was a way to "tackle" the situation.
"To tackle the situation and request the guest to leave, one of our gate managers made a statement on sarees not being a part of our smart casual dress code and our whole team apologises for the same," the statement said.
Aquila went on to apologise for the remark.
"Aquila is a homegrown brand and each member of the team stands tall as a proud Indian. Our gate manager''s statement in no way is a representathe entire team''s view on the dress code. Nowhere in our company policy does it say that we will refuse entry to anybody in ethnic wear.
"While we have all the right to take steps for the violence by the guest against our staff, we have chosen to maintain peace so far but in accordance with our policy of maintaining transparency with our stakeholders we are now issuing this statement," Aquila said.
(With inputs from PTI)