St Albans pensioner barred from favourite pub after eating sausage roll
PUBLISHED: 14:30 06 August 2015
An elderly man who has been a morning regular at a city centre pub for years has been banned - for eating a sausage roll.
Phil Willett, 89, a widower who lives in Sandridge, visited the Waterend Barn in St Albans every morning as part of his daily routine.
But last Friday, having come out without any breakfast so he could do his shopping in Marks and Spencer before going to the pub, he took a sausage roll out of his bag and was promptly banned from the premises as a result.
Mr Willett has been a customer of the Waterend Barn for around 30 years - long before it was taken over by JD Wetherspoon and was owned by Thrales and Simmons.
On Saturday mornings, he met up with a group of friends, including former St Albans Mayor Ron Wheeldon, and they would chat over coffee and breakfast.
His friends are so incensed by the treatment meted out to Mr Willett that they complained to Wetherspoon CEO John Hutson and chairman Tim Martin.
Avril Foster, who sent the letter on behalf of his friends, said that on a daily basis, Mr Willett left home at about 8am, did a bit of shopping before popping into the Waterend Barn for a Guinness and a look at the betting guide..
She went on: “Last Friday he went in, got his glass of Guinness, took out a sausage roll and was banned.”
Mr Willett went out every day because he loved seeing people, she said. “People in Sandridge know him and would be horrified if they knew what was going on.
“He is a lovely gentleman and the regulars all know him.”
Avril said a similar situation had arisen at the Waterend Barn a couple of years ago to her disabled brother who is a coeliac and has to have gluten-free food.
At that time the Waterend Barn did not offer gluten-free food and as his wife had obtained gluten-free rolls from a nearby chemist, he had eaten one.
As a result, not only was he banned but also the whole party on his table. It was only after a strong complaint was made to Wetherspoon’s that the ban was rescinded.
Now the same thing has happened to Mr Willett and in her letter to Wetherspoon, Avril pointed out that at his age, he ‘might not understand the modern rules and regulations of public houses.
“He will remember in his lifetime the freedom of frequenting his favourite pub and certainly would not understand the hard-hearted rules of your establishments.
She added: “We find it very strange but more importantly very hard to understand how your company can treat the vulnerable, the elderly and the disabled so shabbily.”
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said that over recent months, Mr Willett had eaten his own food at the pub and had been told by managers, staff and the area manager that it was not acceptable but they had taken no action.
He also maintained Mr Willett had been rude to staff which had happened again when he was asked to stop eating the sausage roll.
He added: : “Our manager on duty felt enough was enough and that he had been given enough warnings.
“He said the man was barred for his behavior and this decision is backed by Wetherspoon.”