Kolkata: Mocambo restaurant, just off Park Street in Kolkata, is 60 years old and iconic. But a visitor to the city, Dilshan Hemnani, has now called it “racist” for not letting her driver in for dinner on Friday. Her Facebook post on the incident has gone viral with over 10,000 reactions, 16,000 shares, and over 3,000 comments.
“How shallow and inhuman have we become,” she wrote. Her driver, Manish, who had been driving her around for a week and she were waiting in queue for a table at Mocambo, but those who came after them were let in first. When asked why, first there were excuses and then the shockers, she wrote.
“Madam, he is not properly dressed,” a Mocambo staff allegedly told Ms Hemnani. Some argument over dress codes later, another allegedly said, “He is drunk”. She said, “Racist.”
Ms Hemnani was not contactable over Facebook. Mr Siddharth Kothari, owner of Mocambo, was. “His clothes were not clean,” he said. “People with shorts and slippers come all the time but if a guest is not clean, others may complain. Drivers, domestic help often come with employers. That’s not an issue.”
Some diners at Mocambo who were aware of the Facebook post said they would continue to patronise the restaurant. “If I came here looking scruffy and dirty, I would be turned away too,” said Sudipto Roy, a businessman. His companion, Sohini Moksha, added, “Rights of admission are reserved at restaurants.”
But on social media, the outrage is snowballing. “Boycott Mocambo,” wrote Siddharth Rodrigues, Sandipan Banerjee, Pinaki Banerjee, Ritika Gadodia, Shweta Agarwal and hundreds of others.
The anger is spilling outside the cyberspace as well. Food blogger Poorna Banerjee said, “I have seen really badly dressed, dirtily dressed people walk into Mocambo. So that’s no excuse. This is just terrible bias. Doubly shameful because we are in Kolkata, a liberal city with a soul.”
Mocambo is an icon in trouble. Social media can be ignored but could be at its own peril.