On September 20, Delhi-based Anita Choudhary who wanted to celebrate her daughter's birthday at Aquila restaurant located at Ansal Plaza was denied entry for she was not dressed 'smart enough' for the private space.
In a video clip shared by her on Twitter, staffers at the restaurant can be seen clarifying why they cannot allow her inside. "We allow only smart wear and saree is not considered a smart wear," one of its female staffers can be heard explaining.
As soon as the video went viral, the restaurant received a lot of flak over its prejudice not just on Twitter but even Zomato, a review space for city-based restaurants. The outlet which is getting stormed by negative comments had to roll out a special moderation alert notification for its users. Another user pointed out that 'no Indian ethnic' is a dress code strictly followed at other private spaces too, especially lounges and elite restaurants.
"Sareenotsorry" is a popular hashtag on social media with millions of supporters of the saree movement. Although the humble saree, in its various forms, has been a part of the Indian culture for centuries, the 21st century revisited the unstitched garment making it trendy and wearable for all occasions not just in India but abroad too.
Recently, writer and actor, Pratima Mani, who holds South Asian roots rocked the Emmy Award show in a black saree standing alongside Stephen Colbert and the Emmy award-winning team of Stephen Colbert's Election Night 2020: Democracy's Last Stand: Building Back America Great Again Better 2020.
In Japan, Yori Yamamura (identifying as nonbinary) has been spreading the love for the handloom Indian sarees with their own personal adoption by recording the journey on Instagram. Her Insta saree journey has gems from Kerala's Kasavu to Benarasi silk from brands such as Sabyasachi to Parama.
Author Shefali Vaidya has admitted to adorning the graceful six-yard outfit in many countries reacting to the debacle wrote on Twitter, "Who decides sari is not 'smart wear'? I have worn sarees at the best restaurants in the US, UAE as well in UK. No one stopped me. And some Aquila Restaurant dictates a dress code in India and decides saree is not 'smart enough'?"
Saree is not allowed in Aquila restaurant as Indian Saree is now not an smart outfit.What is the concrete definition of Smart outfit plz tell me @AmitShah @HardeepSPuri @CPDelhi @NCWIndia— anita choudhary (@anitachoudhary) September 20, 2021
Please define smart outfit so I will stop wearing saree @PMishra_Journo #lovesaree pic.twitter.com/c9nsXNJOAO
Restaurant plays blame game now
According to a recent development, the restaurant, getting into damage control, issued an apology on its Instagram account and blamed the guest for misbehaving with a staffer, and the saree comment being just a reason to deny her and her family into their space.
"Our gate manager's statement in no way is a representation of the entire team's view on the dress code. Nowhere in our company policy does it say that we will refuse entry to anybody in ethnic wear," read the restaurant's official statement.