‘He’s not drunk, he’s disabled.’ Waiters refuse to serve man with ALS, wife says

A Pennsylvania woman says waiters at a Mexican restaurant refused to serve her husband drinks after misinterpreting his ALS symptoms as drunkenness.

Bryanna Hare shared video on Facebook last week showing the tail end of the Sept. 13 confrontation at Las Margaritas in Holmesburg, a neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia. Her video has more than 75,000 views and has been shared nearly 2,000 times.

“He can’t talk right. Do you hear him? He’s not drunk, he’s disabled,” Hare tells a worker in the one-minute clip.

Hare wrote that she and her husband Dan were at the restaurant with two of his friends.

“Since his voice is different now from his ALS he was denied drinks from not one but TWO waiters because of his ‘slurred words,’” Hare wrote. “His two friends that were with him also tried to explain his diagnosis but no one seemed to care or even take it into consideration.”

Hare wrote that the manager was “was completely ignorant” and that other workers were “rude and disgusting.”

Dan and Bryanna Hare were married in May and recently bought a new home — but just a month ago, Dan was diagnosed with ALS at 26, CBS Philly reported.

ALS is short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a progressive nervous system disease that impacts brain and spinal cord nerve cells and leads to loss of muscle control, according to Mayo Clinic. Also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, the cause is usually unclear.

According to Mayo Clinic, “ALS often begins with muscle twitching and weakness in a limb, or slurred speech. Eventually, ALS affects control of the muscles needed to move, speak, eat and breathe. There is no cure for this fatal disease.”

Dan Hare said the situation at the restaurant “made me feel helpless,” NBC Philadelphia reported.

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“Just to get dressed, just to brush his teeth, just to walk up and down the steps is literally a struggle for him,” Bryanna Hare told CBS.

But the owner of the restaurant, Vittoria Perez, said the workers were just trying to protect the restaurant, according to CBS.

“They were very aggressive,” Perez said, according to CBS. “If anything happens, we’re liable. We apologize if we hurt him in any way feelings-wise, because if it was that he really has this disease, I feel bad.”

The waiter, Carlos Natara, said “he, another employee and a manager all decided not to serve Hare alcohol but the decision had nothing to do with his disability. Instead, Natara claimed he smelled marijuana at Hare’s table but didn’t bring up the odor because he didn’t want to be rude,” NBC reports.

“I just told them I can’t serve alcohol,” Natara told NBC. “I’m just being polite.”

Hare said he does have a medical marijuana card, according to NBC.

Natara apologized, telling NBC that “I’m really sorry … It wasn’t my point at all. You know, it’s a rule. It’s my job.”

Regardless, the Hares said they won’t be going back.

“Whoever goes to Las Margaritas please STOP going!” Bryanna Hare wrote in the Facebook post.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.