A man with ALS claims a Philadelphia restaurant employee refused to serve him because of his disability. Now the server is defending himself after video showing the man and his wife accusing the restaurant of discrimination went viral.
Dan Hare told NBC10 he was visiting Las Margaritas on Welsh Road in the city’s Holmesburg neighborhood with his friends on Friday. Hare, 26, said he has two to five years left to live due to his ALS, a terminal disease that weakens your muscles, and wanted to create a fun memory.
Hare told NBC10 he asked for a drink after they arrived at the restaurant but was told by a server that the restaurant didn’t serve alcohol in the section he was sitting in. Hare said they moved to a different table and were told once again that alcohol wasn’t served in their section. Hare said he also noticed that customers who were sitting at the table he was previously at were being served alcohol.
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Hare believes the server mistook his slurred speech caused by his ALS for drunkenness. He told NBC10 the incident made him feel humiliated and ignored.
“Made me feel helpless,” he said.
Hare then contacted his wife who arrived at the restaurant with his medical records and spoke to one of the managers. A friend recorded as Hare’s wife accused the restaurant of discrimination while the manager repeatedly apologized.
After the video went viral, Hare’s server that night, Carlos Natara, came forward and explained his side of the story. Natara told NBC10 he, another employee and a manager all decided not to serve Hare alcohol but the decision had nothing to do with his disability. Instead, Natara claimed he smelled marijuana at Hare’s table but didn’t bring up the odor because he didn’t want to be rude.
“I just told them I can’t serve alcohol,” Natara said. “I’m just being polite.”
Hare told NBC10 he does have a medical marijuana card that he uses responsibly. He’s now hoping the incident will bring more awareness and better training of staff members at the restaurant in dealing with customers who have disabilities.
“I never wanted this and I would never wish this on anybody,” Hare said.
Hare also said the ALS Association is aware of the incident and he’s received several phone calls and emails from supporters. Natara meanwhile apologized but also insisted he wasn’t discriminating against Hare, didn’t notice his slurred speech and was simply following instructions after smelling marijuana.
“I’m really sorry,” Natara said. “It wasn’t my point at all. You know, it’s a rule. It’s my job.”