NEWS
25/11/2019 2:23 PM AEDT | Updated 26/11/2019 10:28 AM AEDT

Gay NZ Restaurant Owners 'Deeply Humbled' By Diners' Support After Homophobic Comment

Tourists had been told to steer clear of the eatery "owned by 2 gay men from America".

The owners of a New Zealand restaurant are overwhelmed with the support they have received in the past few days after a homophobic comment was made about their eatery.

Ken Miller and husband Jason Brumbaugh own a tapas restaurant called Saluté in Greytown, Wairarapa in NZ’s North Island. They were “hurt deeply” after a local shoekeeper advised some tourists to not visit their business as it’s “owned by 2 gay men from America”. 

While they sadly weren’t surprised by the homophobia, they were pleasantly taken aback by the support that followed when a diner posted a restaurant review. 

“Came to Greytown this weekend with my wife and our friends for a chill day, looking at the shops,” wrote Alexia Black.

“Asked by a shopkeeper where we were going to have lunch we said Saluté looked good online. We were told it was owned by 2 gay men from America and that ‘locals dont eat there’.

“When we asked what was wrong with the food we were told they couldn’t comment on the food as they hadn’t eaten there in a year, but that we should drive to the next town, Carterton, for lunch. She also commented that it was a real shame and she hoped something nice could be done with the place in future.” 

What Alexia and her wife and friends did next was extraordinary. 

“So of course these queers walked straight to Saluté,” she explained, adding “the food, atmosphere and service were all fantastic”. 

Alexia said she asked to speak to the manager after her meal and tell him what the shoekeeper had said.  

“We sat him down and told him what had happened. He wasn’t surprised at all, and the quiet emotion in his eyes showed us they had been battling for a while and it hurt deeply. We told him we’d loved our meal and would be back, and apologised to him for the way they have been treated in NZ.”

Since the review was posted, locals and visitors have shown an incredible wave of support, with Miller confirming “business has boosted significantly”.

“The support and well wishes have been tremendous,” he told HuffPost Australia.

“People are delighted to see us busy and keep warning us to hold on as they expect us to be slammed with business for some time. They also express that what was said does not represent what most Kiwis feel or think.

“We have had people drive from 4 hours away just to bring cards and such. The word gratitude does not begin to do justice to what we feel.”

Miller said he and his husband hope “this whole ordeal forces people to think twice before they say something damaging about another person, especially when those statements are made to complete strangers”.

“All of us are striving to move forward in our journeys through life. When it comes to business, our sexual preference, our nationality, our hours of operation - that is irrelevant. We are all trying to make a living.

“When she [the shoekeeper] made an attempt to damage our business, she also put the livelihood of all the people we employ at risk.”