Male restaurateurs, chefs and managers who don't respect their female employees had better take note: Finally someone has had the courage to say "no more" to the sexist, degrading treatment women are subjected to in the restaurant industry (and I'm speaking from experience).

Ramona Brooke is the winner in this case--in all respects. Brooke, 41, was manager of the Off Belleview Grill in May 1992 when she was fired for refusing to dismiss a waiter because the restaurant's owner wanted more waitresses. Now manager of the Creekside Grill in Cherry Creek, Brooke sued the Off Belleview Grill for sexual discrimination. Last week she was awarded $121,000.

For Brooke, though, the money wasn't the point.
"I wanted to let the [restaurant community] know they can't get away with it anymore," Brooke says. "That's why I did it." She says she hopes her victory will inspire others to come forward.

"It's worth it," she says, adding that people who haven't worked in restaurants don't know how large a problem the industry has with sexual discrimination.

She's right. Over a recent lunch, a former waitress who'd worked for a prominent Denver restaurateur told me that one day he announced "we need more tits in the dining room." And a chef I worked with once told a waitress her new curly hairdo looked "real nice, but it would look better with my sperm in it." I almost threw up. When I told the woman we could probably take up a collection among the women working there to help her sue for sexual harassment, she said, "He'll make it look like I asked for it."

There are women (and men) who encourage sexual advances and banter. But you're an idiot if you don't know to keep your comments and your hands to yourself in a business situation.

And if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Eat, drink and save the earth: The Columbine in Evergreen is hosting a wine dinner with a twist: Proceeds from the April 12 four-course meal featuring Colorado wines will go toward purchasing for Jefferson County open space a 400-tract of land known as Noble Meadow, an area developers have been trying to get their hands on for some ridiculous project like mountain condos. Forty-five bucks buys you not only a clear conscience but also a one-hour tasting, silent auction and dinner prepared by Bavarian chef Peter Ertl. For reservations (if you have to cancel at the last minute, give them a donation anyway, because space is limited) or more information, call 670-3651.

Would the real Guinness please stand up? I'm drowning in phone calls from Denver area pubs claiming to pour a pint o' Guinness just like the ones in Ireland, and I have pledged (it's a dirty job...) to follow up on each and every one of them. I'll be the person you see stumbling down Colfax mumbling "slainte" (by the way, it's pronounced "slon-cha"). If and when I find the goods, you will be the first to know.

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner