A popular German restaurant, Metzger Bar and Butchery, in Richmond turned away a conservative Christian organization last month, citing the group’s known stance against same-sex marriage and abortion rights as the cause.
The Richmond-based Family Foundation, which advocates for “policies based on biblical principles,” booked a private dessert reception for supporters on Wednesday, November 30, but Metzger canceled the reservation on the day of the scheduled event.
“We have always refused service to anyone for making our staff uncomfortable or unsafe and this was the driving force behind our decision,” per Metzger Bar and Butchery’s statement on Instagram. “Many of our staff are women and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community. All of our staff are people with rights who deserve dignity and a safe work environment. We respect our staff’s established rights as humans and strive to create a work environment where they can do their jobs with dignity, comfort and safety.”
Located in Richmond’s Union Hill neighborhood, Metzger Bar and Butchery is a destination restaurant for those looking for riffs on falafel, schnitzel enhanced with curry mustard, and other inventive takes on German fare. Metzger’s chef and co-owner Brittanny Anderson, a Top Chef and Chopped alum, is also behind Alpine-influenced Brenner Pass.
The Family Foundation’s president Victoria Cobb detailed the ordeal in a blog post, saying one of Metzger’s owners called to cancel about an hour and a half before the 20-person event was set to start.
“As our VP of Operations explained that guests were arriving at their restaurant shortly, she asked for an explanation,” wrote Cobb. “Sure enough, an employee looked up our organization, and their wait staff refused to serve us.”
It’s against the law to discriminate based on race or religion, but it’s not illegal in Virginia to prohibit services based on political views. Metzger’s refusal had to do with “the overall positions and policies the group has taken ... it’s not about Christian vs. non-Christian,” University of Texas professor Elizabeth Sepper told the Washington Post.
Back in 2018, another Virginia restaurant denied service to then-White House press secretary Sarah Sanders for similar reasons. The owner of Red Hen in Lexington felt Sanders’s “actions in the service of our country ... violated basic standards of humanity.”
Like the Red Hen, Metzger’s denial of service has sparked national attention; comments on its Yelp page were blocked. “While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to this incident, we’ve temporarily disabled the posting of content to this page as we work to investigate whether the content you see here reflects actual consumer experiences rather than the recent events,” reads the Yelp notice.
Virginia Business first reported on the canceled event.
Both parties have used the publicized incident as an opportunity to fundraise. The Family Foundation, which lobbies against the Equal Rights Amendment and same-sex marriage, asked supporters for donations.
Proceeds from Metzger’s “Cracks in the Foundation” bourbon cocktail went to LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Virginia on Saturday, December 10.