Couple says they were asked not to come back to East Texas restaurant because they are gay

Published: May. 27, 2014 at 11:02 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2014 at 11:40 PM CDT
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PITTSBURG, TX (KLTV) - "We don't serve fags here."

That's what a Pittsburg couple said they were told while leaving a local restaurant. The men went to eat at Big Earl's Restaurant in Pittsburg for breakfast Tuesday morning. They said they enjoyed their food, paid for their meals, but it's what the waitress said on their way out that ruined the whole experience.

Collin Dewberry, who was leaving with his partner, said the waitress told them they do not serve a certain type of person at that restaurant. The word she used was derogatory and targets homosexuals.

Collin and his partner Kelly Williams said they have lived in East Texas their whole lives and have never been called that word before.

"We've never had that kind of hate displayed to us before," Dewberry said.

They explained that the waitress then recited the following phrase: "Here at Big Earl's we like for men to act like men and for ladies to act like ladies, so we want you to never return."

They had eaten, paid, and had no idea they had done anything wrong.

"It was just so nonchalantly, almost like she was reading a piece of paper," he said.

Well, she was. That phrase is posted on a piece of paper on the front door of the restaurant.

The owner told us that sign had been here since the restaurant opened three years ago. He also said they have the right to refuse service to that couple in the future because they didn't follow that policy.

Big Earl said it was their behavior, touching legs, that was against policy, not their sexual orientation.

"I didn't go over there to inspect to see what he was rubbing. That's just not appropriate in a family restaurant that has a sign on the front door that we just don't do that here," Earl Cheney, the restaurant owner, said.

That waitress who used a derogatory term is Earl's daughter.

"She's a young lady, didn't know what else to say, and they just kept on and she finally said we just don't like fags," he explained.

He said the men were badgering his daughter, the waitress, and it's all on surveillance video, but he wouldn't let KLTV see that.

"She didn't know what else to say. She was frustrated and flustered, you know, and they were going out just laughing and carrying on," he explained.

"I laughed. I was shocked. I didn't know really how to react," Dewberry said.

The owner said plenty of gay couples eat at his restaurant without hassle and he has no problem with that as long as they follow his policy.

"You're welcome to come and eat, but a man act like a man and a woman act like a woman. Dress appropriately and act appropriately when you're in a public place."

We asked him what a man should act like and what a woman should act like. He responded, "The same thing it says. That a man's supposed to stand up and be a leader. He's not supposed to be a woman. He's not supposed to come in here in a dress."

Reviews for the restaurant online have been flooded with reactions from people who have heard about the incident.

"The reviews are very much in support of us, and not of them," Dewberry said.

They said, for them, that makes this experience something powerful and rewarding.

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