This past Friday night, Sara Farsakh and her group of hijab-wearing friends settled in for a night at the Laguna Beach outpost of Urth Caffé, the tres chic LA chain of feel-good teas and food that opened their first OC location last year and is readying another one in Old Towne Orange. The ladies had barely received their orders and had only sat at their tables for about half an
See, Urth has a posted 45-minute time limit policy for tables in place in case the restaurant needs to make room when crowded. This happened, according to Farsakh, even though the cafe wasn't exactly hopping and a group of white women sitting near her table told them they had been there since before Farsakh's party arrived and had never been asked to leave. There was also a bit about a waiter telling Farsakh that Urth's 45-minute policy is rarely, if ever, enforced—hmm...
Farsakh claims the whole incident happened because she and her friends are Muslims. Actually, instead of us telling her story, let's turn the digital mic over to Farsakh's Facebook post, complete with video:
The Weekly reached out to the Laguna Beach Police Department for comment but has yet to hear back. We also called Urth Caffé in Laguna Beach and asked for any sort of management on duty and were told there weren't any supervisors in the building (really?). We were then given a corporate number to call, which turned out to be an information, sales and reports office. When asked if there were any other offices we can call for a comment, we were told "None of our offices can provide any comments."
UPDATE 4/25/16, 11:26 A.M.
After speaking to the Laguna Beach Police Department, the Weekly has learned that Corporal Derek Short and Officer Zack Fillers arrived at Urth Caffé on Friday evening at 8:40 p.m. for a call made by an Urth Caffé manager about 12 women refusing to leave the cafe's property. Upon arrival, Corporal Short said the women asked to leave were very nice, cooperative and still had their desserts and coffees on their tables.
"A business can refuse service if they want," says Sergeant Kleiser, Laguna Beach Police Department's Public Information Officer. "We usually advise people to cooperate first and deal with the issue later." Kleiser says if trespassing charges are pressed it would be initiated by Urth Caffé not the Laguna Beach Police Department but the department would have to enforce them. Looks like we haven't heard the last of this...
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UPDATE 4/26/16, 2:31 P.M.
Sara Farsakh is currently not making any statements about her incident at Urth Caffé instead she is directing all press to the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Los Angeles (CAIR-LA).
Today at 1:31 p.m., CAIR-LA released a statement in regards to Farsakh's cafe debacle.
"CAIR-LA is investigating the matter and is very concerned about the possible bias motive involved in this incident in wake of recent events in which Muslims were kicked off a plane or refused service simply for allegedly being Muslim," said CAIR-LA Executive Director, Hussam Ayloush. "No customer should have to face the humiliation of being kicked out or refused service if they are compliant with the business' policies. Public spaces, such as restaurants, are prohibited from applying a business policy that denies access to services in a discriminatory manner."