The co-owner of regional chain Cuba Libre has publicly apologized to a transgender woman who was blocked from using the ladies room at the D.C. restaurant, an unnecessary confrontation that has prompted the company to rethink how it trains its employees.
Charlotte Clymer had dinner with friends at the Penn Quarter restaurant on June 22. When she went to use the women’s room, Clymer said a male attendant tried to block her from doing so; Clymer was asked to show ID, faced questioning from the attendant and a manager, and ultimately called the cops to rectify the situation. The incident sparked a public outcry echoed by members of the LGBTQ community as well as public officials including D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser.
Cuba Libre co-owner Barry Gutin is attempting to turn the unfortunate incident into a teachable moment.
“On Friday night, June 22, 2018, our DC restaurant refused to allow a patron, Charlotte Clymer to use the restroom that aligned with her gender identity. For this I am truly sorry,” he said in an official statement. “We recognize that this mistreatment is in opposition to the laws of the District of Columbia. It is also contrary to my partners’ and my core beliefs and values. I pledge that my staff and I will do all that we can do to ensure that such mistreatment does not happen again.”
As part of the mea culpa Gutin says D.C. restaurant staff have been instructed to allow customers to use whatever restroom aligns with “their own gender identification or expression.” He also said Cuba Libre will make contribution to and plans to work with LGBTQ non-proift Case Ruby to ensure this type of situation never happens again.
“With the guidance of LGBTQ representatives, we will work to ensure that Cuba Libre is a safe and welcoming space for all of our patrons,” Gutin said.