A restaurant targeted by Vegan activists has been hit by a spate of fake bookings just a week after diners were interrupted by loud anti-meat protesters.
The owners of Lapa Brazilian Barbecue said the restaurant, in Subiaco in Perth, was flooded with fake bookings over the weekend, costing them $5,000.
A week earlier, protesters from the Perth branch of militant animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere shouted ‘animals do not want to die’ and ‘it’s not food, it’s violence’ as they held signs in the packed barbecue restaurant.
‘On Friday we had about one third of the restaurant empty,’ owner Gabby Santo told Nine News.
Online reservations were made under fake emails, names and phone numbers.
‘We even had a woman in Queensland answering saying “no, I know nothing about your restaurant”,’ Ms Santo said.
But the group behind the loud protest the previous week denied the fake bookings had some from any of its members.
Emma Madle said Direct Action Everywhere has no idea who is behind the scam and claims it has turned into a potential smear campaign against the group.
‘We don’t want the business to experience harm, we just want to raise awareness to the problems with animal product consumption,’ she said.
While she denies any involvement, Ms Madle said the people behind the bookings could be a part of the vegan community unhappy with the publicity the restaurant received after the protest.
When asked if the people should stop making fake reservations, Ms Madle did not give a straight “no” but said they should ‘question the intention of their actions’.
Direct Action Everywhere had booked two tables on August 16 and waited until the seating area was filled before it staged the demonstration.
Guests were largely undisturbed by the protest and the venue experienced a surge in positive publicity as a result.
Footage live-streamed to the group’s Facebook page showed the activists chanting at bemused diners for several minutes before patrons could be seen urging them to leave.
‘Seriously, get out. You’re ruining everyone’s dinner,’ one person could be heard telling the group.
The chanting continued despite pleas for them to get out, before a man in a white T-shirt who had been berating the protesters came over and snatched their megaphone.
As the man stormed outside with the megaphone to force the protesters outside, one member of the group made a final plea to diners to re-consider eating meat.
‘It might have been two minutes of your time you feel has been ruined – they spend their whole lives suffering inside factory farms for your taste pleasure,’ she shouted.
The owner of the restaurant said customers happily went on with their evening after the protesters left, news.com.au reported.
He added the restaurant had received mostly positive feedback on social media about the demonstration.
‘Time to check you out!’ one person wrote on their Facebook page. ‘If they want to eat veggies… that’s their choice! But they shouldn’t impose it on others.’
‘I never heard of you until I heard about the protesting. But if I’m ever lucky enough to be in Perth I’ll give you guys a go,’ another said.
Direct Action Everywhere’s Facebook page describes the group as a ‘non-violent community of concerned individuals seeking to end the slavery of animals’.
Last month DAE Perth member Tash Peterson, dressed in a bloodied apron with a fake butchered pig’s head under her arm and wearing a face mask, protested at a Western Australian McDonald’s.
The back of her shirt read: ‘Your ”food” fought for their life. That should leave a bad taste in your mouth.’
Footage shows the 26-year-old holding a sign saying: ‘McDonald’s tell them the truth’.