The owner of a Chinese restaurant in Reading has revealed he regularly receives racist phone calls in a “cartoon Chinese accent” and asking if he serves bats – even though he comes from Coventry.
Steven’s wife Joanna is Chinese, and their children are mixed race, but he hails from the city in the Midlands.
He said people regularly call the restaurant and make deeply unpleasant comments to both him and his wife. Since the Covid pandemic, the nuisance callers have also started asking if they “serve bats” – in reference to rumours coronavirus emerged in an animal, most likely a bat, before spreading to humans.
The couple say they are sick of it and will now start reporting the callers to the police in an attempt to put them off from continuing to harass them and other people who do the same to other restaurants in the area.
Steven told BerkshireLive: “I’m English and come from Coventry so I find it more annoying. We’re trying to run a business here and these people phone up a lot.
“It’s a massive waste of time.
“You get a lot of people thinking it’s funny to talk in these cartoon-style Chinese accents to me and to my wife, which is pretty offensive to my wife and my children.
“You also get people phoning up and asking if we serve bat, or dog meat, or cats. It happens all the time and has been happening for years.”
His wife, who is 38, added: “I’m very feisty with them, I don’t take any nonsense.
“I take their numbers down and block them. But they just keep coming back, I’m sick of it now so will go to the police with this latest one.
“What worries me is that there are people in other restaurants in Reading who don’t speak English as well as we do and might be getting the same sort of abuse, so we’re going to the police to try to stop it happening to all the Chinese people in Reading.”
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Mr Mann added one person had even gone to the lengths to use a voice distorter to make a call to the restaurant.
He added: “It was like you hear in films where the voice is very deep and very slow. We’re getting pretty sick of all this now, it’s very unpleasant and a big waste of our time.
“It’s been very difficult for everyone in Covid and this is something that just adds to that stress.”
The couple said they’re not sure if it’s one person or a group of people and they now try not to answer calls from unknown numbers.
Joanna said: “Sometimes the doctor or the children’s schools will phone and we need to speak to them, so we can’t always ignore them.
“We really wanted to open the restaurant to provide authentic Chinese food to people of Reading, we feel China gets a lot of bad press.
“We love Reading and we love the people in Reading, but we just want this to stop.”
The owners took to Twitter to reveal their frustration after years of the calls.
They said: ” Almost every day, I receive a phone call to ask me ‘do you sell bat wings?’
“And before pandemic time, they would call to ask me ‘do you sell cat or dog meat!’ To be honest I felt really sad and upset. What is going on with those people? Stop bullying or racist verbally or on the internet.”