Naveen Babu came to Sault Ste. Marie four years to attend Sault College’s Occupational Therapy Program from Kerala, India. He now lives here, working full-time at Community Living Algoma.
For the most part, he has been welcomed by the Sault community, but recently, he faced discrimination at local business, Shogun Sushi. “I’ve been here for four years, and I’ve actually had a wonderful experience for the first two or three years. I get a lot of questions or even misconceptions that some people might find offensive but I just see it as curiosity.”
A Facebook post which garnered a lot of attention with almost 160 reactions, 156 shares and 96 comments detailed the interaction between Babu and two of his friends at Shogun. Babu has specified that this experience, in his opinion, doesn’t reflect on Shogun as it was not the owners who used discriminatory language.
Babu spoke with SaultOnline and shared what he wants to make very clear is his perspective on what happened. He said that he and his friends, one of whom was Roshna Robin, Marketing Intern at Big Brothers Big Sisters, attend Shogun quite often, at least once a week, and that this particular day November 2nd 2018, they were celebrating Robin’s ability to go out after being bedridden for three weeks. “We went to Shogun to celebrate and it was quite an ordeal because her tailbone is injured, she has to sit on a special donut and it takes her time to walk to and from the car and get settled.”
As soon as they sat down, Babu claims that they were told by a gentleman working that they would have to pay a 15% service charge. Babu said “I asked him if this was something new and he said no. Honest to god, at first I didn’t get what he was saying and we were talking back and forth but by the end I was under the impression everyone had to pay for it.”
He told SaultOnline he then asked another staff member to speak to a manager and the same gentleman came back. “he was angry, pointing fingers and saying ‘this is because you don’t tip.’ I said ‘I always tip when I’m here.’ He was pointing right at me and yelling.”
Babu shared that, since he eats at Shogun often, he offered to show his bank statements.
The staff member proceeded to tell Babu “Your people don’t tip.”
In the aftermath, Babu explained to SaultOnline that they stayed for their meal mostly due to the hassle they went through to get Roshna there and seated comfortably, but it was “an awkward meal.”
“We go often and and we spend our money there and support their business, so to be insulted like that is so offensive.”
Babu has stated he would have taken the post down had the staff member apologized. He said he called the restaurant since and was told the owners are in Quebec right now. SaultOnline has attempted to contact the owners for comment multiple times, and was told that they are now living out of town.
They did not return a message for comment.
Robin said they were extremely embarrassed from the whole ordeal.
Since then, Babu has received an apology via Facebook through a staff member apologizing on behalf of the manager, which he has accepted. This staff member offered to apologize in person, however, Babu said he would have appreciated a face to face apology from the offensive person.
Babu said it would be great if, when newcomers arrive to Canada, they are given training on tipping etiquette as this is a custom that varies greatly from country to country. He believes that immigrants would benefit from this and it would help to reduce events like this from happening in the future.