An Orange County man is suing the Moorpark restaurant co-owned by "Top Chef" star Fabio Viviani for discriminating against men with its ladies-night
Plaintiff Steve Frye and his girlfriend patronized Cafe Firenze in January, and Frye alleges his girlfriend was served four martinis for $10, the advertised ladies-night price. Frye went to buy the second round and asked for the same deal but claims he was refused.
The server said, "It's just for girls tonight," Frye alleges in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Ventura County Superior Court.
The complaint cites statutory and case law prohibiting businesses from unequal treatment based on gender, and argues that women would have the same right to protection from a restaurant or bar that might seek to host a "men's night."
Because Cafe Firenze holds an alcohol license issued by the state, Frye further alleges that it's subject to licensee regulations.
In its "model house policies" guide, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control suggests businesses make it a policy to not promote drink specials for certain groups of people. "For example, 'Ladies' Night.' (This is against the law)," the guide states.
On Friday afternoon, Cafe Firenze's website still had a promotion saying "every Thursday it's ladies night" with a special martini list for $6.95, and red and white sangria for $5.
Viviani provided a statement through his public relations company: "Yes, we used to do a promotion at Cafe Firenze called Ladies Night, but the name was meant solely as a marketing tactic to drive business to the restaurant. In reality, the reduced price offerings were given to anyone who ordered them, men included. We did not nor do not discount based on sex, race or age."
Viviani was "Top Chef" season 5's "fan favorite." He was also in the follow-up Bravo series "Top Chef All Stars." Last year he was on another Bravo series, "Life After Top Chef."
Viviani used his Moorpark restaurant in September as the location for a benefit for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Ventura County, a volunteer organization that represents the interests of court-dependent children. The Moorpark restaurant also regularly participates in the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine & Food Festival. The event raises funds for Casa Pacifica, which is a center for abused and neglected children in Camarillo.
He and partners opened Firenze Osteria in North Hollywood in 2009, and Siena Tavern in Chicago in February.
Staff Writer Lisa McKinnon contributed to this report.
(c)2013 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.)
Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at www.vcstar.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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