A controversial café owner who came under fire for asking customers to produce a doctor’s note if they want to order gluten-free food has hit back at his critics for lacking a ‘sense of humour’.
Paul Stenson, proprietor of The White Moose Café in Dublin, has been inundated with tens of thousands of angry messages on his Facebook page after he raged against customers ordering gluten-free food as part of a ‘fad’.
The 36-year-old told his 86,000 followers that only those with coeliac disease will be able to order gluten-free food from now on – if they have medical proof.
Paul Stenson, 36, who runs the White Moose Café in Dublin (pictured), caused a social media storm when he raged against people who order gluten-free food that do not suffer from coeliac disease
The post quickly whipped up a social media storm, with thousands messaging him to slate the ‘policy’.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Mr Stenson said: ‘Nearly 100 per cent of my posts are of a humorous, satirical nature and on the whole I’m trying to be funny and often not succeeding.
‘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.
‘But there are genuine coeliacs who have a genuine medical condition where they could die, and these fad followers are trivialising the condition.’
Thirty-six-year-old Mr Stenson told his 86,000 Facebook followers that only those with coeliac disease will be able to order gluten-free food from now on – if they have medical proof
Addressing his critics, he added: ‘First, get a life. Second, go to the doctor’s and see if they can prescribe you a sense of humour, and third, realise you only live once.’
Mr Stenson’s café has been hit with hundreds of negative reviews on review website Yelp and Facebook in the wake of the scandal – the majority by people who have never visited.
Yesterday, he addressed the ‘members of the sad **** brigade,’ after a critic messaged him to say he had ‘liked’ a negative Yelp review.
Mr Stenson retorted: ‘If you want to leave fake, negative reviews on us, that’s perfectly fine with me, but whatever you do, don’t tell anyone about it.
‘You need to keep these things to yourself. God gave you a brain. Please use it.’
Mr Stenson addressed the ‘members of the sad **** brigade,’ after a critic messaged him to say he had ‘liked’ a negative Yelp review
He told FEMAIL: ‘We’ve got 20,000 five-star reviews, and 12,000 one-star reviews, and very few three, four, or two star reviews, so it just goes to show how unreliable the review system is, and how it can be cheated.’
The original gluten-free bashing post has been ‘liked’ 40,000 times.
Matt Shallow commented angrily: ‘My wife is a coeliac and your comments are extremely upsetting.
‘You obviously do not know anything about the difficulties people with coeliac disease go through. Insisting they must carry proof of their illness is disgusting. You need to be reported to the food safety authority.’
Devil horns are quite appropriate for the outrageous Paul Stenson, who courts controversy on his tongue-in-cheek Facebook page for his café
But Mr Stenson, who also owns the Charleville Lodge Hotel where the café is based, has a quick-fire rude reply up his sleeve for every critic.
He replied: ‘You’re upset? Hang on. My violin is around here somewhere.’
Angry Australian user Lynette Delane told Mr Stenson: ‘How bloody ignorant of you. Gluten affects a lot more people than celiacs [sic].
‘I have [autoimmune disease] Hashimotos which even most doctors don’t know how to treat, so I end up having to treat myself, which includes an elimination diet that shows that gluten makes me feel like I’ve taken sleeping tablets.
‘Glad restaurants in Australia aren’t this stupid.’
Mr Stenson, who also owns the Charleville Lodge Hotel where the café is based, has a quick-fire rude reply up his sleeve for every critic
But Mr Stenson savagely replied: ‘I believed your comment up until the point where you misspelled the word “coeliac” and now your entire comment has lost any ounce of credibility it had the potential to possess…’
Mary Cartledge wrote: ‘I don’t know who your spokesperson is but he /she needs to swot up on their lack of knowledge about gluten free. I won’t be visiting your cafe any time soon!’
Mr Stenson mockingly replied: ‘You won’t be visiting the cafe anytime soon? Well when WILL you be visiting. I’d like to know. So I can LOCK THE FRONT DOOR.’
Megan Ryan commented: ‘Wow the responses from the business is majorly unprofessional. Your getting paid for the gluten free food so why would you care if they are celiac [sic] or not. Bad business.’
But again Mr Stenson had a reply for her. He wrote: ‘Of course they are unprofessional. That’s what makes them fun. This is social media, Megan Ryan! It’s not supposed to be professional.’
Mr Stenson made the doctor’s note threat after describing a visit from a customer who had asked for gluten-free pancakes, but didn’t understand the term ‘coeliac’.
The White Moose Cafe in Dublin, which is run by the controversial Paul Stenson. He’s told anyone offended by his post to ‘get a life’
The customer then proceeded to order ‘gluten-rich pancakes,’ Mr Stenson claimed.
He continued: ‘From now on, guests who demand gluten-free food are required to produce a doctor’s note which states that you suffer from coeliac disease.
‘Guests following a gluten-free fad, who don’t even know what gluten is, can cop the **** on and eat regular food like everybody else.’
After the social media storm erupted, he wrote a post of ‘thanks’ to the gluten-intolerant.
He said: ‘I would like to thank most sincerely all of you who have been so offended by my posts over the past few days.
After the social media storm erupted, he wrote a post of ‘thanks’ to the gluten-intolerant after he said the controversy saw his takings increase by 57 per cent
‘Because of you guys, our little café in North Dublin has featured in 43 news articles across the globe, we have appeared on 14 different radio and TV shows in countries as far as New Zealand and the US, we have gained 25 thousand new fans, the café itself has never been busier (our takings have increased by 57 per cent), but much more importantly than all of this, not one person has demanded gluten-free food since my original post on Saturday.’
He signed off: ‘P.S. You’re still ******* idiots.’
It is not the first time the café has courted controversy.
Last year, Mr Stenson threatened to ban vegans after his request for them to order meat-free food in advance offended some members of the community.
He then declared he would shoot vegans dead if they entered his restaurant – but not everyone found the joke funny.
And the gluten-free saga isn’t even the only row Mr Stenson is fighting this week.
After using a photo of a breastfeeding mother to jokingly advertise a corkage fee for mums who fed their babies in the cafe – infuriating many – the picture’s photographer, New York-based Melania Nastazia, threatened Mr Stenson with legal action.
Last year, Mr Stenson threatened to ban vegans after his request for them to order meat-free food in advance offended some members of the community, and this week has been embroiled in a row both with breastfeeding mothers and a New York photographer
Not everybody has taken offense at Mr Stenson’s latest controversial post, such as Helen Blackmore
But never one to back down from a fight, Mr Stenson retorted that the photographer had posted the image online with the accompanying message: ‘Many of you have contacted me to ask if you can share my work to raise awareness and celebrate mamas – you are more than welcome to share any and all of them!’
Not everybody has taken offense at Mr Stenson’s latest controversial post.
Helen Blackmore wrote: ‘I’m coeliac and was in the other morning. Your waiter was really nice, sorted me out with gluten free toast and I had a really good breakfast. Will be back!’
Mr Stenson replied: ‘You were looked after because you are, indeed, a coeliac.’