To her shock, waitress Shelley Sidney found herself serving a room of bigots on Thursday during a private event at Atlanta, Georgia, Italian restaurant Antica Posta.
"I get to the last person in the party, and they give me a menu that has a swastika drawn on it,” Sidney told reporters.
To her, it was a clear indicator that these people needed to leave the establishment.
She told WSB-TV Channel 2 that it was "the most blatantly hateful thing anyone has done to her," but it turned out to be just the beginning of an emotionally exhausting night.
Furious, Sidney showed the vandalized menu to the restaurant owner, Marco Betti, in hopes that he would put his foot down. Bizarrely enough, even when faced with his destroyed property, Betti would not kick out the guests and instead cited the First Amendment.
"I was hurt and frustrated," Sidney said, and the feelings only got worse as she alleges she heard a customer use the n-word soon after.
It turns out that a group of Holocaust deniers had booked the venue for a speaking event by author and discredited historian David Irving. Staff had noticed his books circulating the room, and after some quick research, put two and two together.
“I was really in tears when I was overhearing the conversations, the private conversations, of just how horrible black people are, immigrants are, gay people are,” Sidney said.
She said she told Betti that she would not be serving these people and Manny Arora, the owner's lawyer, said that he had agreed that she by no means had to. However, Sidney told reporters that her employer has not asked her back to the restaurant yet.
Arora insists that Betti did not know the type of event to be held nor who David Irving was because, "You don’t check into people’s backgrounds or their political beliefs before you agree to a reservation."
That's fair enough, but what is troublesome is that Betti chose to host the event even after finding out its hateful purpose. If he was too nervous to kick them out based on their beliefs alone, he could have used the destruction of the menu with a swastika as a reason to remove them from the premises. He didn't though, and chose money over morality, his neo-Nazi guests over his distressed staff.
The lawyer said that Sidney still has a job at the restaurant if she wants it, but does she really want it?
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters, Hugo Correia