Family tells of 'humiliation' after being refused entry to West Sussex restaurant

A West Sussex restaurant has apologised to a family after a 16-year-old and her family were refused entry because of their medical assistance dog.

South Street, Chichester. Picture via Google Maps
South Street, Chichester. Picture via Google Maps

Clare Faulkner, who lives in Hunston, walked from her home to go to Pizza Express in South Street, Chichester, to enjoy a family lunch on Saturday (March 24) when they were told by staff at Pizza Express that they would not be allowed in the restaurant because of her daughter's medical assistance dog, Polo.

Clare's daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was was just three years old and was paired with the medical assistance dog in 2012 to help her spot the symptoms of hypoglycaemia preventing her from collapsing or falling into a coma, Clare said.

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The medical assistance dog was 'clearing wearing his jacket' highlighted its job.

The family then went to another restaurant and once they left they were approached by a chef from Pizza Express who apologised and offered the family a complimentary meal.

Clare said: "I explained that we felt really embarrassed an upset that we had not had the opportunity to have a meal in Pizza Express. I said that on their website it clearly states that they have an inclusive policy for individuals with Assistance Dogs.

"I felt that they had clearly some work to do with their staff training and attitudes. We are in 2019, meant to be at the peak of inclusivity in terms of individuals with disabilities and special needs. My daughter took the voucher, politely but we feel that we had such a bad experience, we would not be able to go back to Pizza Express.

"I would not want another individual to experience the humiliation and rejection that my daughter experienced based on her disability and need to have an assistance dog."

Since the incident, the restaurant has said it will be providing more training to staff.

A spokesman for Pizza Express said: "We pride ourselves on creating friendly environments for all our customers and Assistance Dogs are welcome in all our pizzerias. It would seem there was an initial misunderstanding involving a newer team member, for which we apologise.

"Upon being made aware of the situation our pizzeria manager immediately offered our apologies to Ms. Faulkner and offered her a complimentary meal, which she has accepted.

"We look forward to welcoming Ms. Faulkner back again soon and we’ve also taken the opportunity to provide some refresher training for all our team for good measure."