Belfast Telegraph

'Beat the wife' meal deal outrage: Belfast Ribs and Bibs owner plans abuse charity event

By Jonathan Bell

The owner of a Belfast restaurant which sparked outrage after it put a sign out advertising its meal deal while advocating domestic abuse has pledged to hold a fundraiser for charity.

Botanic Avenue eatery Ribs and Bibs placed a chalkboard sign on the street outside its premises on Tuesday afternoon, bearing the phrase: "£5 til 5! Ya can beat the wife but ya can't beat a 5 pound lunch!".

The UK restaurant chain Ribs 'n' Bib is not in anyway associated with the Belfast business.

Malachy Toner was speaking on BBC Good Morning Ulster. He said it was an "off the cuff" staff error and all involved were very sorry. He said he had employed people from disadvantaged backgrounds, "wasters and tubes," he said that couldn't get jobs. He said domestic violence was no joking matter.

In the past he has worked with many disadvantaged people and at times he has "talked young people out of suicide".

He said the sign was put out while he himself was off sick with the flu and the staff were running the restaurant.

"We do not stand over any of the remarks - it's important to point out this was a chalk board not a printed poster," he said.

The sign, he said, was made up by a young and inexperienced staff member on the "spur of the moment" who thought it was "witty and satire".

He said the business had faced a "barrage of abuse" over the remarks on social media.

"The implication for me has been horrendous. We had 1,500 hits on our Facebook page, Christmas bookings have been lost and the guys that do our karaoke have pulled out," he said.

"I condemn it outright. The young fella that did it was in tears. He thought he had lost his job - but I won't sack him. We have apologised and we will face the music."

ribs reply.jpg
An initial response from the business.

Initially the restaurant said it was a "bit of wit" and to see it for what it was, telling one person complaining to "get a life". Mr Toner said that response was given by a second member of staff.

He said he had faced a "tsunami of abuse" toward his business.

"The word 'beat' is as in 'beat the clock'," he later told the Stephen Nolan show.

"The person that wrote it didn't see the bigger picture of what they wrote. Are you saying a teenager would know the implication of what beating the wife means.

"The guy that did this, three weeks ago didn't have a job. So I have no problem defending him but that is not a policy of the restaurant."

He plans to hold a night in the restaurant with all proceedings and all the staff donating their wages toward a shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

"From a positive point of view - should I go out of business so be it - at least it has highlighted that there is suffering out there and places for people to go to for help," he added.

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