Conservative organization denied reservation at Richmond restaurant

A cancelled reservation at a Richmond restaurant leads to debate over cancel culture.
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 7:08 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Faith-based conservative organization, Family Foundation of Virginia, is sounding off after it says members were denied a dinner reservation at a Richmond restaurant over political views.

According to organization president Victoria Cobb, the Foundation made reservations to the popular Metzger Bar & Butchery several weeks ago for a holiday dinner. But last week, an hour before their 20-person dinner party, the restaurant contacted the organization, telling them they would be refusing their prior reservation.

“I’m very surprised to find out that a restaurant wouldn’t serve our organization,” Cobb said. “It was reserved several weeks in advance. We didn’t have any problems leading up to it, but an hour and a half before, we were told we are not welcome here.”

According to its website, the Family Foundation touts itself as an organization that advocates for policies based on Biblical principles.

“We are directly involved with many controversial, political and public policy issues, and we advocate the general assembly and local school boards for the flourishing of families,” Cobb said.

Shortly after canceling the reservation, Metzger’s owners released a statement via social media explaining that they believed the Family Foundation has made a concerted effort to limit the rights of women or the LGBTQ+ community through the use of state and local legislation.

“Metzger Bar and Butchery has always prided itself on being an inclusive environment for people to dine in. In eight years of service, we have rarely refused service to anyone who wished to dine with us. Recently we refused service to a group that had booked an event with us after the owners of the Metzger found out it was a group of donors to a political organization that seeks to deprive women and LGBTQ+ persons of their basic human rights in Virginia. We have always refused service to anyone for making our staff uncomfortable or unsafe, and this was the driving force behind our decision. Many of our staff are women and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community of it. All of our staff are people with rights who deserve dignity and a safe work environment. We respect our staff’s established rights as humans and strive to create a work environment where they can do their jobs with dignity, comfort and safety.”

Metzger Bar and Butchery

Despite the statement, Cobb argues that the owners are hypocritical by choosing to discriminate against an organization for any reason, especially politically motivated reasons.

“It’s amazing that the restaurant can put out a statement that is cloaked in all these words about welcoming and tolerance and their actions being so intolerant and bigoted toward another group of people. It’s disturbing,” Cobb said.

But LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Equality Virginia believes Metzger’s actions were justified.

“The majority of their staff are women or people who are part of the LGBTQ community, so I can understand their decision to want to support and protect their staff,” said executive director Narissa Rahman.

The debate over individuals choosing to deny customers goods and services based on political motivations has been spreading across the country, including in Colorado.

In Colorado, a dispute between a Christian web designer who objected to providing services to same-sex couples has made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Despite the similarities in scenarios, Cobb says she believes the reservation case is a matter of free speech, not food service.

“We don’t want to compel people to speak messages they don’t agree with, but we would like to see charity in all of our Richmond businesses that do basic things like food service,” Cobb said.

Equality Virginia says nothing is stopping the Family Foundation from going to another restaurant and the Family Foundation says it was able to find another dinner reservation.

“I think that the love Metzger has received over the past few days sends a message that equality is good for business,” Rahman said.

In Virginia, while there is legislation on the books that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, there are no laws in Virginia prohibiting the denial of services based on political views.