Urth Caffé Sued By Seven Muslim Women Alleging Discimination
Seven Muslim women sued Urth Caffé on Monday, claiming they were kicked out of the brasserie explicitly because of their religion. Six of the seven women present at eatery were wearing a hijab, and their suit alleges they were ordered to leave because they appeared visibly Muslim, according to OC Weekly.
On April 22, Sara Farsakh and six of her friends paid a visit to the Laguna Beach iteration of Urth. They took their seats, ordered their food, and began to wait, according to OC Weekly. The women's food began arriving, but apparently didn't arrive all at once. As Farsakh claims in her lawsuit, the food was served in a "staggered basis" between 7:20 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., reports KNBC.
Though some of the women had only just received their food, Farsakh alleges a restaurant manager approached their table at 8:15 p.m. and asked them to leave. The manager said the women were violating Urth's 45-minute rule, stipulating that if the restaurant was busy, and no tables were otherwise available, customers are only allowed to dine for 45-minutes.
The chief sticking point for Farsakh is that the restaurant was not busy. As she explained in a Facebook post, complete with potentially incriminating photos and video, the Laguna Urth spot was only sparsely populated, with plenty of available tables for other hungry patrons:
"Urth Caffé's expulsion of this group of women is a throwback to the days of 'Whites only' signs and colored water fountains, with Muslims now being the convenient targets of discrimination," the women's attorney, Mohammad Tajsar, told KNBC.
Tajsar continued, saying how "Urth Caffé's attempt to whitewash its upscale clientele by using its seating policy as a justification to expel those who outwardly appear Muslim is
both immoral and illegal and should have no place in Orange County's diverse community."
Urth's manager says the women were kicked out simply because they were exceeding their time limit. Urth Caffé owner Shallom Burkman said in an interview with KABC that "everyone wants an outside seat, we have this policy to make things fair and accommodate anyone who wants to enjoy Urth Caffé."
"We're very sorry that [Farsakh] has this feeling that this was something racist but that is just not the case," said Burkman.
Burkman added that he is Jewish and married to a Muslim woman, claiming that he and his wife are a "sign of world peace."
According to OC Weekly, Laguna Beach Police Department received a call at around 8:40 p.m. from a restaurant manager, claiming there were twelve women refusing to leave the cafe's property. When LBPD arrived, they found the were cooperative, and also had unfinished desserts and coffees on their tables.