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Dublin’s Most Controversial Café

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I had been living for about four weeks in Dublin when it came up in a conversation with my host family that the café right across the street where we lived was famous for being the centre of heated debates on social media. It instantly sparked my interest and I asked what exactly it was famous for.

The White Moose Café situated on North Circular Road in Phibsborough, Dublin 7 is very popular due to the controversy it caused in the past. For the same reason, there is a large number of people amongst who it is not popular at all. This includes vegans, Brazilians, people who eat gluten-free food, and breastfeeding mothers.

What exactly did the café do to upset so many groups of people?

In October 2015 the manager of the café Paul Stenson unleashed a storm of sharp criticism by posting a notice on the café’s Facebook page which was deemed offensive by many vegans:

“**Attention Vegans** Please do not waltz into our cafe with no notice and look at us like we have ten heads when you realise that there aren’t 50,000 items on our menu that suit your idiosyncratic dietary requirements. Our chef will be more than happy to prepare a number of dishes for you but a little heads up in advance would be appreciated.”

Vegans then started leaving negative reviews on their official Facebook page and Tripadvisor listings to which Stenson reacted by posting that any vegans would be banned from their café and joking about killing them if they tried to do so.

The White Moose Café once came under fire for asking customers to produce a doctor’s note if they wanted to order gluten-free food. Stenson defended his posts by saying that all of them are of a humoristic and satirical nature and that he just wanted to get a message across:

‘But there’s a serious underlying message that I’m trying to get across, that people often come in and demand gluten-free food but they don’t know what gluten is, and they’re suffering from a condition that science says they don’t have. They’re imagining it.’

And ever since the café made fun of a Brazilian man’s accent, it has also managed to offend Brazilians living in and outside of Dublin. After the man was interviewed for the job of a kitchen porter, Stevenson posted the following: ‘The poor lad, whenever he wanted to say kitchen, he said chicken. I really want to be chicken porter. I like chickens. I really like to be in chickens. How big is your chicken? I have honestly never found it more difficult to keep a straight face in my life.’

Furthermore, The White Moose published CCTV footage of a customer eating a meal in the café to prove that her negative review was not justified.

And not to forget the angry mums that were asked to pay corkage for feeding their children in the café with breastmilk instead of buying the cafe’s milk.

‘Following a recent customer query, we would like to advise all patrons that breastfeeding is allowed in The White Moose Café. However, female guests who choose to give children their own milk, as opposed to ours, shall incur a corkage charge of €5.’

Are the posts just a bit of craic or seriously offensive? That’s up to you to decide.

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Jenny Bui

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