Tensions are running high as society opens up after the coronavirus restrictions, with many restaurants reporting irrational and at times aggressive behaviour from customers.
Richard Holt, who runs the popular Melin Llynnon mill and tea room at Llanddeusant on Anglesey, Wales, was forced to retreat to his kitchen when a tourist became abusive and threatening when he was told that the tearoom was closed.
Holt has decided not to reopen his tearoom due to the still present health risks associated with the coronavirus.
Formerly the head pastry chef at Marcus Wareing's two-Michelin-star The Gilbert Scott in London and Anglesey's own Michelin-starred Sosban & The Old Butchers, Holt claims that a man approached his establishment, ignoring the many signs that say it’s closed. When the chef asked him to leave, the man allegedly became abusive and threatened him, forcing him to call the police.
"I don’t blame all the other places for opening because remaining closed is causing us some genuine hardship. Thankfully none of my family have underlying health conditions, so it’s just a matter of public safety. We have signs everywhere and a great big barrier that says 'closed'," Holt told North Wales Live.
"This gentleman appeared to be climbing over our gate with his son, so I poked my head out of the window of my bakery kitchen, where I was preparing something for my TV series, and said politely 'sorry sir, we’re closed'. He climbed over anyway, so I went out and said 'sorry, I don’t think you heard me correctly, we’re not open to the public at the moment'. At this point he lost his temper and started shouting abuse, telling me how disrespectful he thought I was being and that he didn’t care if he was on private property or not."
Mr Holt continued: "I tried reasoning with him and explaining that my family usually work on site and that we also took this time to spray potentially harmful chemicals on the weeds, so I was concerned about his young son. He began shouting even louder and squared up to me aggressively, cursing, all the while with his young pre-teen son in earshot."
Mr Holt claims the man then accused him of being racist before shouting "serious insults" and swearing at him whilst "squaring up to him". He added: "He had his fists clenched, frothing at the mouth, and he was about a foot away. Not quite the two meters he should have been.
"There was nobody else around and he was considerably bigger than me, too. With this in mind, I thought I should back down and do what he said. I locked myself in my own kitchen, which felt slightly dehumanising, and witnessed him return to his car. He put his son in the back seat where another young child was already sitting. I thought it was over, but he then went back on the site by himself.
"I thought he might be motivated to do some damage, so at this point I called the police. His wife, who was in the car, saw me on the phone and went looking for him. As they drove off, the emergency call handler asked for the number plate and the direction he was heading. I told them not to prioritise the incident despite his threat of returning."
Mr Holt said that he will not let the alleged altercation "put him off" and said he will welcome back tourists with open arms when he can. He said: "Some of the best people I met last year were tourists. I love visitors and I am completely dedicated to Anglesey tourism. This is a one in a million kind of scenario and it certainly has not put me off continuing in this industry.
"Most people respect my decision and some people have even offered donations to our business, which I have gracefully declined. After this incident I will look at our current policy and rethink it for the physical safety of my staff and family."
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