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Restaurant Accused Of Sexism After Banning Solo Women From Sitting At The Bar

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Women already have a hard time feeling safe and comfortable in many public spaces, and while things are changing now that we're living in a post-Harvey Weinstein era, there's still a long way to go.

Patrons of a celebrity-loved eatery in New York City have recently reminded us of the fact that women are still being treated differently than men in certain spaces.

According to Clementine Crawford, a globetrotting creative executive, Nello has banned unaccompanied women from dining at the restaurant's bar. They are offered a table in the dining room instead.

Woman eating solo
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Crawford, who has previously eaten solo at the bar on several occasions, was taken aback when she realized that men were exempted from the restaurant's odd policy, even though she was initially told that it applied to everyone.  

In an essay she penned for Drugstore Culture, Crawford explained that she was forced to question why she was "suddenly being treated so frostily," after seeing a man eating by himself while sitting at the bar.

Upon "further interrogation," she was told "that the owner had ordered a crackdown on hookers: the free-range escorts who roamed the Upper East Side, hunting prey in his establishment."

Woman drinking at a bar
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Naturally, Crawford raised her concerns to the owner, explaining that she frequently dines at the Madison Avenue establishment and never had any issues white seated at the bar. However, his response was far from warm and friendly.

"He told me that he could run his business as he pleased," she wrote in the piece titled The Night I was Mistaken For A Call Girl. "And that I was no longer welcome to eat at the bar, only at a table."

"All these years we have been battling for a room of one's own; and, little did we know it, but we are still fighting for a seat at the table (or bar, to be strictly accurate)," she wrote.

The restaurant has been facing serious backlash since their discriminatory policy has come to light, and people have turned to Yelp! to share their thoughts on it.

"I was trying to eat but they kicked me out because I'm a woman. It was the afternoon. It was lunch. LAME," wrote one disgruntled customer.

"Came here for a nice meal while I waited for my husband to finish with his appointment. I was told I couldn't eat at the bar and sat by the bathrooms off all places. I was seriously suspicious because I kept getting certain looks that made me wonder if I resembled someone they knew. It wasn't until later I found out because the assumed I was an 'Escort' they didn't want me attracting male customers and their policy is not to let women sit at the bar. First and last time here. I know I'm gorgeous but to assume all beautiful women are sex workers and isolate them this way is disgusting," another patron wrote.

"A single woman's money is just as green as the next man," read one review. "What's wrong with single women including escorts dining??Are we in the dark ages again?? Can't an attractive woman take herself out to dinner without the suspicion of under-paid service employees at restaurants curious to know if she's a "hooker"?? If a woman is then it's nobody's business."

So far, none of the owners of the restaurant have commented on the controversy or responded to requests for comment from the media.

If this policy is not done away with, Nello could be in serious trouble with not just its customers, but also with the law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that restaurants cannot refuse service to customers based on race, color, religion, sex, or place of birth.

What do you think of Nello's bar policy?

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.