Food by VICE

Iconic LA Deli Facing Backlash After Allegedly Asking Two Women Not to Kiss

“He... told us that he ‘can't have this in his restaurant because some of the customers don’t understand,’” the woman's Instagram post read.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Jun 14 2019, 9:14pm

If you scroll to the bottom of the Langer’s Deli website, you’ll hit its News section, which collects “REVIEWS, ARTICLES OF INTEREST AND OTHER ITEMS FEATURING LANGER’S DELICATESSEN.” But at the top of the site, there’s currently a statement that addresses an “item featuring Langer’s Deli” that isn’t included with the other articles recommending the Los Angeles restaurant’s famous pastrami sandwich.

According to Eater Los Angeles, Rachel Curry and her girlfriend went to Langer’s for lunch last Saturday and, after they finished their meal, the two of them kissed. “Suddenly a man with a walkie-talkie was standing at our table,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “He introduced himself as Norm Langer and told us that he ‘can't have this in his restaurant because some of the customers don’t understand.’”

When she protested, he responded that she was being “selfish and inconsiderate.” The two women paid their bill, left the restaurant, and swore that they’d never eat at Langer’s again. Curry then shared her experience online and encouraged others to boycott the deli. “I just want to raise awareness that this space is unsafe for LGBTQ+ people in an effort to prevent future harm to others,” she wrote. “Please spread the word not to support this business.” (Curry has since set her Instagram account to private, but others have shared her photo caption.)

Langer has disputed Curry’s version of events, insisting that he just doesn’t like any kind of PDA in his ‘family’ restaurant. “The whole thing is absurd,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “The two ladies came in around 11:30, they were sitting next to each other and throughout the meal they started snuggling and making out. I walked over to the table and said, ‘Hi, I’m Norm Langer. I’m glad you’re here, but it’s not really a place to make out.’ They said are you against the LGBTQ community, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’”

The restaurant has since posted a statement on social media—and at the very top of its website—insisting that it’s not homophobic, and that Norm would swat the Royal Family’s mouths away from each other, if he had to.

“Langer’s Deli is open and inclusive to all people. Anyone who comes to our family restaurant is treated equally and with respect,” they wrote. “We treat all customers equally and never discriminate. We have a long-standing policy against anyone from ‘making out’ whether straight or same-sex couples, it does not matter. I have stopped heterosexual couples from making out, and I would do the same if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were making out. We are a family restaurant, and I apologize if some people do not like our policy.”

On Thursday, Curry released her own statement—and she’s standing by her recollection of events. “Perhaps Langer’s does have a policy about PDA, but that was not what was communicated to us and that’s not what this was about, or at least not the only thing that this was about,” she wrote on behalf of herself and her partner. “If this was simply about an across-the-board PDA policy that had nothing to do with the fact that we were two women, it could have been handled completely differently and we would have respected that [...] He said ‘I can’t have this behavior in my restaurant,’ coded language to tell us that our queer behavior would not be tolerated in this establishment.”

Langer told ABC7 that he believed that Curry’s proposed boycott might be having an effect, because business seemed slower than usual this week. Maybe it would have been better to just let those two customers have their after-lunch smooch; despite those fears about what should happen in a “family restaurant,” there’s no way that kiss would’ve gotten this much attention.