TEL: 212-243-2736
Story And Photo By: Justin Campbell

The Empire Diner, where endless movies have been filmed and many celebrities have gone over the years, needs to learn the customer comes first. Below is a account written and alleged by one of our favorite celebrity photographers in New York City. He is alleging the waiter said " Get Out Of Here Faggot". You can believe it or not!

The Empire Diner

The other day I went to have lunch at “The Empire Diner” on 22nd street and 10th avenue. The restaurant was almost empty inside, and outside only one of their many tables was occupied. I decided to enjoy the chilly spring weather and elected to sit at a larger table rather than at one of the small tables crammed next to the trashcan and servers cart. On a day when the restaurant was busy I would never have presumed to situate myself a table for 4, however since there was plenty of tables available I thought nothing of it. However mere seconds after I had sat down, a waiter rushed over to me and demanded I sit at another table in a rude and insistent voice. Mind you, he didn't acknowledge me first as a customer, or simply ask politely, rather I was addressed as a degenerate. Baffled by the servers confrontational attitude I pointed out how the smaller table was situated in an extremely undesirable location and that since the diner was empty there should be no problem. This logic only angered the waiter more, who again insisted that since I was only one person that I move immediately. Always the gentlemen, I choose not to engage further with the server and asked to speak with his manager. I was told that I could see the manager inside. After waiting inside the diner for a few minutes the manager finally made his way over to me. I explained the situation and reasoned again that since the diner was near empty and that there were many tables open that I would like to sit at a more desirable table. I also made clear that I intended to spend good money on my lunch (I intended to order the fish and chips). I assumed that there would be no problem, however the manager simply laughed in my face and told me that if I didn’t want to sit at a small table I wasn’t welcome. I told the manager that I would leave then and take my money somewhere else. He sharply responded that he didn’t care. As I exited the diner I passed the rude waiter and he gave me a nasty look and laughed. I retorted with a “f**k you” only for him to yell, “get out of here Faggot”. The last comment I found extremely offensive, while I’m not gay I have a lot of gay friends, and that type of language is extremely inappropriate and derogatory. Even more upsetting though was the restaurants lack of professionalism. The first rule of any business is that the customer comes first. Not only did I not come first, but also I was treated like a second-class citizen. At the very least in this economic crisis any restaurant should welcome business. I was ready to spend a good $20-30 on my lunch yet that did not matter. I am extremely offended and I will never eat at the restaurant again.

Editors Extra: After several days of phone calls to Renada Gonzalez, the owner of The Empire Diner, we finally got her answers. She told us that the waiter was following her policy that parties of one, do not sit outside. She had said in the first phone call, that the outside was closed that day, and I said it was not as we had the photos with people seated at the outside tables, with most of the tables empty. When I brought up the fact that Justin asked to speak to the manager, and was treated just as bad, she shot back with " He was cursing everyone out". Now anyone that knows Justin, knows he is not like this. He has admitted to giving a f**k you on the way out. Renada Say's Justin called the waiter faggot, but anyone that knows Justin, knows his best friends are gay and would not do this. Now as a former waiter myself for many of my younger years, I always understood that every customer was important, even if they were only a party of one. Some of my best tippers were parties of one, and Justin is a great tipper. I understand that some tables are for bigger parties. But when a restaurant is not very busy, and the customer wants a bigger table, they should have it to make them happy. Renada the Diner owner was very sweet. She offered to comp a free brunch or lunch for Justin. Justin Say's he will never go back there. I also explained to Renada that a person carrying several cameras can not be presumed a tourist in New York, but must be presumed a member of the media, as we have the Daily News right down the street and several other huge media outlets. We at Times Square Gossip, feel that every customer should be important. We feel if the tables out front were not taken up, Justin should have been given one to make a customer happy. We think the customer should come first. This is what I was taught when I was a Waiter. So my readers can decide this one for themselves. I for one, agree with Justin. We also do appreciate Renada speaking to us with her views. We would love to hear comments from other people who have eaten here.


Anonymous said…
Glad that I came across this article. Justin and James, you are right on. I'm from the South, and plan to visit N.Y. again in the near future. I'm single, have $$$ to spend, and I'm very tired of being treated differently because of it. Did no one pay attention to Sex and the City? Renada needs a new Manager STAT! If she cannot reccognize this - she has more problems than that rude, out-of-touch, slacker of a waiter. Cheeers - to better people and lunches!