Tammy Krug and Candice Roberts were walking in East Village on Sunday night when a homeless man asked them for money.
“I said, ‘um, I will not give you money, but if you want to eat, we will give you some food,’” Krug said.
They walked into a nearby sports bar and grill Dirty Del’s, located on 10th Avenue and Island Avenue.
“He came in with us, but he sat to the back. You could tell he was uncomfortable. We said, ‘hey, we need to buy this guy’s food. He’s homeless. He needs food,’” Krug said.
When the women tried ordering food, they say the cook refused to make food for the homeless man.
“He said ‘absolutely not. I’m not making him food.’ And that’s when we said ‘well, I want the food,’” Krug said. She said he responded, “absolutely not, not feeding the homeless."
NBC 7 tried contacting the owner of Dirty Del’s multiple times, but the restaurant has not responded.
However, NBC 7 did talk to several legal experts who said refusing to serve people is, in most circumstances, legal. Restaurants that have had past problems with customers or have had a problem with panhandlers targeting their customers often see it as a way to stop what could become a bigger issue.
California Restaurant Association spokeswoman Angelica Pappas said she can’t speak on this particular incident without knowing the context of the situation. But in general, she said no business wants to turn away money or a customer.
“If there is some reason why serving a customer would be disruptive or a health or safety issue, then a business owner is totally within their legal right to refuse service,” Pappas said.
Pappas said it’s hard to know if the business had previous run-ins or some cause to turn them away.
“There’s no way to know if there’s more to that story. I don’t hear a lot of accounts of any businesses turning away a customer or money without some justifiable cause, so hopefully that restaurant has had it,” Pappas said.
Krug has been affiliated with the downtown area since 2004 and acknowledges there may be problems with the homeless in the East Village area.
“We were buying it, so I don’t see why it would be a problem. But I do understand we have a problem with homeless people. Maybe he was irritated that day or what not. But it’s just not right,” she said.
Krug and Roberts took the man to a local convenience store and bought him a sandwich and a soft drink. They were happy to help the man, but are still upset about what happened.
“What if you were hungry and you wanted to food and you were humiliated enough just asking and when someone tries to buy it for you and someone’s not willing to make it?" Krug said. "That's just sad."