Village Restaurant Manager Fired for Booking Gay Wedding, Lawsuit Says

By Mathew Katz on September 17, 2012 4:47pm 

Staff said the actions alleged in the lawsuit seemed "out of character" for the restaurant's owners.
Staff said the actions alleged in the lawsuit seemed "out of character" for the restaurant's owners.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

MANHATTAN — A Greenwich Village sushi restaurant refused to cater a gay couple's wedding when the owners learned of their sexual orientation — and thought hosting a rehearsal dinner the night before the shindig would be bad for the eatery's feng shui, according to a bombshell lawsuit.

Barrett Greene, 50, and Thomas Eng, 38, say the shocking reversal by Amber Village, which was located at 432 Sixth Ave. in the heart of one of Manhattan's most LGBT-friendly neighborhood, left them without a rehearsal dinner space and caterer for their June 9 nupitals, according to the documents filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. The restaurant has since relocated to 135 Christopher Street.

The troubles began shortly after the couple put down a $750 deposit in March to book a party room for their June 8 rehearsal dinner. Tommy Ho, a manager at the restaurant, agreed to have Amber Village cater the wedding the next day as well, according to court documents.

But on March 30, the restaurant's general manager, identified in the documents only as Mr. Fong, allegedly confronted Ho in a rage and said he "didn't want any 'gay parties' at Amber Village."

"Fong also told Ho that it's 'very bad' for Amber Village to book 'gay parties,' and that big groups of 'gay parties' are especially bad for feng shui," or the Asian practice of improving a building's chi, or energy, the lawsuit says.

After the exchange, Fong allegedly paid Ho his back wages and fired him, saying "you can go now," according to the lawsuit.

Soon afterward, Ho texted Greene that he had been fired and that the pair could no longer have their rehearsal dinner at Amber Village, or have their wedding catered by them — leaving them scrambling to find a last-minute caterer for their 200 guests.

The suit seeks unspecified punitive damages, claiming that the restaurant discriminated against the pair based on their sexual orientation.

Amber Village moved to a new location on Christopher Street in May, staff said.
Amber Village moved to a new location on Christopher Street in May, staff said.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

The couple also claims that Amber Village never refunded their deposit.

The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 14 against Amber Asian Cuisine Incorporated, which owns four sushi restaurants around the city. The company is owned by Qi Yeng Lin, and Mr. Fong is allegedly Lin's son, court documents say.

Several employees at two Amber Asian Cuisine restaurants confirmed that Mr. Fong worked at them, but he nor Lin responded to requests for comment.

An employee at the Christopher Street location said it's likely that the event was cancelled because of the move, which took place in May. He said that other locations of Amber Asian Cuisine have hosted gay weddings previously.

"That just seems really out of character for this place," said the worker, who declined to give his name.

Calls to the couple's lawyer were not returned.

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