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Hungry patrons flock to restaurant after nearby shopkeeper told people not to eat there because the owners are gay

Emma Powys Maurice November 19, 2019
Gay-owned restaurant Salute

Business is booming at Saluté despite one homophobe's attempt to turn people away (Instagram/@salutegreytown)

The American owners of a New Zealand tapas bar have been “blown away” by support after a local told visitors not to eat at their restaurant because they are gay.

Ken Miller and Jason Brumbaugh are the owners of Saluté in Greytown, Wairarapa. They were shocked to hear that a local shopkeeper was advising people to avoid the restaurant.

Visiting tourist Alexia Black posted a review detailing her experience on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “We were told that it was owned by two gay men from America and that ‘locals don’t eat there,'” she wrote.

“When we asked what was wrong with the food we were told they couldn’t comment as they hadn’t eaten there in over a year, but that we should drive to the next town, Carteton, for lunch.

“She also commented that it was a real shame and she hoped something nice could be done with the place in future. So of course these queers walked straight into Saluté.”

Despite the shopkeeper’s warnings, Black thoroughly enjoyed her meal at the gay-owned restaurant and ended her review: “If you love great food and hate bigotry and small mindedness, book a table at Saluté and show these lovely men that Aotearoa is no place for hate.”

New Zealanders took her advice and within hours the post had gone viral, with people from all over the world pledging to patronise the restaurant.

“The outpouring of support and people wanting to come here now has been overwhelming,” Miller said in an interview with local radio station MagicTalk.

“We have so much support and inclusivity here, we have so many regulars. We have people booking a year in advance… it’s a really beautiful and good thing.

“It’s the New Zealand we fell in love with and are still in love with.”

 

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Greytown already has a reputation for being so LGBT-friendly that it’s been nicknamed “Gaytown”. Miller and Brumbaugh insisted that the homophobic shopkeeper is in the minority and discouraged an internet campaign to boycott her shop.

“We don’t want her persecuted. We are human, we all make mistakes. I don’t think she’s a bad person,” Miller told Stuff. “The voice of one woman or a faction of her friends does not define the locals.”

The shop owner told Stuff that she had emailed the couple and apologised for any comments that were “construed as homophobic” and offered to meet up.

“This has been taken out of context. It’s absolutely not me at all. I’m a pretty down-to-earth sort of person,” she claimed.

More: aotearoa, LGBT restaurants, New Zealand, wairarapa

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