A school for children with special needs in Limassol confirmed on Wednesday the reports of aggressive behaviour by a restaurant owner on the Lady’s Mile strip to a group of its students last week that subsequently caused a furore on social media.
According to the head of Apostolos Loukas summer school, Aris Papageorgiou, the incident occurred on July 12, when around 15 students, along with two teachers and five escorts, went to the restaurant in question and entered the air-conditioned area.
“As soon as they entered, the owner told them to step outside, to the kiosk,” Papageorgiou told the Cyprus Mail.
He added that the owner later tried to justify his behaviour by saying that some of the children had knocked off ashtrays or other items that were on the tables.
“They didn’t even have time to sit anywhere, as soon as they entered he told them to go outside. He was very negative from the beginning,” Papageorgiou said. The group left the premises after that.
The school organises trips to the beach twice per week, he said, and students usually go to another restaurant on Lady’s Mile where they are welcome, but that on that day, they opted to go to another place because they needed shallower waters for one of the students to bathe in.
According to reports, the teachers told the owner that some of their students risked having an epileptic episode if they were exposed to the heat, but that he wouldn’t budge.
The school would not name the restaurant, but it was leaked on social media. The restaurant could not be reached for a comment.
Speaking to 24News, however, the manager of the restaurant in question denied the allegations and said that they were only trying to accommodate the group in a more private space.
The manager told the news portal that, once the children were in the restaurant there was a commotion and in order not to disturb their other customers, she had asked the teacher in charge to move the students to a covered area outside usually reserved for school groups.
She also refuted allegations that they asked the group to go outside in the scorching heat. The group arrived in the morning, she said, when it was cool.
Following this, she said, the teacher threatened her that they would report the incident on social media. “It is they who should ask to be seated,” she told the portal. “I don’t know if I’m right or wrong but at that moment, I did what I thought was best,” the manager said.