Quadriplegic army vet turned away by restaurant because ‘wheelchair will take up too much space’

A disabled veteran from the Afghanistan war was left in shock after a Melbourne eatery turned him away because of his wheelchair.

Quadriplegic Joel Sardi, booked a table for five at a well-known restaurant in the northeast part of the city.

He then told an employee that he was in a wheelchair and received an unexpected response.

The restaurant told him that his “wheelchair would take up too much space and we need the money”.

Image credit: Joel Sardi

In an interview with Tony Jones, Joel said the boss of the restaurant stood by their decision unapologetically.

“The boss was forward in saying I was not welcome, and was by no means taking a step back or being apologetic, he was quite aggressive” he said.

Image credit: Joel Sardi

The veteran said it was not his first time facing such discrimination. 

“If a 10-year-old went into this venue and they said no because of the wheelchair, he or she would accept that because they think adults are always right,” Joel said.

“Now in this case they are extremely wrong and the child will grow up thinking and expecting its acceptable when its so far from the truth.”

Image credit: Joel Sardi

Joel was a rifleman for the Australian Army for five years before an incident left him disabled.

He had come back home from a 7-month mission in Afghanistan in December 2013.

The veteran suffered irreversible spinal cord damage in a fall in 2014, which paralyzed him from the shoulders down.

Joel wants to use what happened to him at the restaurant to let people known that this type of discrimination is unacceptable.

“It’s not acceptable to discriminate or let people miss an opportunity based on any ability or disability they may have,” the veteran said.

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