'Utterly disgusted': Restaurant refuses refund after diner's father dies

A Michelin star restaurant has refused to refund a diner whose father died on the day of his reservation. Photo: Twitter/FordwichArms.

A British man is speaking out against a critically acclaimed, fine-dining restaurant that refused to refund or even reschedule his booking following the death of his father.

Martin O'Grady made a reservation for himself and five friends to eat at the Fordwich Arms, a Michelin-starred gastropub that was named the U.K.'s restaurant of the year in 2018.

Martin paid a £660 (almost AUD$1,300) deposit to book the dinner on New Year's Eve which was also his birthday, Vice reported

But just days before the dinner, Martin received word that his father had had an accident while travelling overseas. On December 31, he died.

Refund refused

Before his dad’s passing, Martin began trying to cancel his reservation several times. In one instance, one of his friends called the Fordwich Arms and explained that they'd need to reschedule due to an emergency only to be met with ‘nonsense’.

Martin's father died on the day of his restaurant booking. Photo: Facebook/martin.ogrady.

“One of our party called the restaurant on 27th December in advance to make the manager aware of what had happened and to request a postponement of our dinner date,” he wrote on a community Facebook page for residents of Canterbury, England.

“He received a recital of nonsense about terms and conditions and that our dinner date could neither be refunded nor changed to a later date,” he added.

Martin’s friends tried again to cancel the policy on the day of the dinner, explaining that their friend’s father had died and that they simply wanted to reschedule.

As Martin noted in his Facebook post, they never asked for a refund on their deposit, however, the restaurant allegedly continued to refuse them. 

“We are utterly disgusted by this experience, not to mention £660 worse off,” he wrote. “There are no words”.

Canterbury Residents Group

Restaurant responds

The restaurant has since refuted Martin’s claims and said they would only provide a partial refund.

Dan Smith, the head chef and co-owner of the Fordwich Arms, told Kent Online that he had not offered the group a full refund, but did say he would repay Martin and his partner for their portion since they couldn't make it.

"With it being New Year's Eve, this particular menu utilised a lot of premium expensive ingredients which were purchased specifically for the event and ensures that no food is wasted," Smith added.

“As a small independent restaurant in the current financial climate, it is vital we take steps like these to take pre-payments to protect our business”.

That response didn't sit well with Martin though, who said he didn't believe the restaurant truly felt sorry for what he had previously called an “appalling experience”.

“They are ‘sorry for my loss’? They didn’t communicate that to me. It seems that all the negative comments and criticism have pressurized them into commenting,” he told Kent Online.

“Their rationale is just about economics. The human aspect of this seems entirely lost on these people”.

Photo: Twitter.

Outraged Twitter users have shared their opinion on the ‘disgraceful’ restaurant’s behaviour online, with one user calling for a boycott until the money is refunded in full.

“Hardly well deserved, the food may be ok, but your morals are severely lacking. Have you refunded that poor family their money? I’m sure for the prices you charge you won’t miss £660. Whereas the death of their father is life-changing,” wrote one.

“I hope your actions result in many people boycotting your establishment,” said another.

“Disgraceful business,” wrote one.

Additional reporting by Dillon Thompson.

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