Video of homeless man being turned away from restaurant goes viral
1:31 PM, Jan 2, 2018
3:26 PM, Jan 2, 2018
MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (WXYZ) - A homeless man walked into a restaurant asking for a free coffee, but got turned away and that moment was caught on video, which is now going viral.
It happened at Gus's Coney Island on North Main Street in Mount Clemens.
In the video, you can hear the server say, "Not my business, okay? I don't own this place. I can't give away stuff for free."
Marisa Billardello hit record when she felt the hostess was being rude to the man.
"I just posted because I wanted to see how other people felt about the situation," she explained. "You need to talk to everybody and treat everybody with respect."
Marisa's husband bought the man a coffee. They asked him to sit down at their table and even offered to pay for a meal but he declined.
Gus' Coney Island has now been criticized on social media. Owner Evan Pozios says he's never turned down anyone from coming in to stay warm.
"When something like that goes viral, it's like being at the bottom of a hill catching a boulder."
He says the reason why the man was asked to leave was because he was going from table to table asking for money. That wasn't on the video.
Marisa doesn't question that.
"I didn't know of that, I didn't see that with my own eyes," she said.
Evan says they've been extremely charitable and he even employs homeless people.
"We are here to help, we always have been."
For the past three winters, they've posted a Pay It Forward board. People can donate a $2 drink, $5 breakfast meal or a $10 dinner tickets.
But that day, Evan says all the tickets were taken.
"And the employees, frankly are just not authorized to give out free items. If I'm here, nine out of ten times I will help somebody," he explained. "We also have a business to run, if we are not making money we are not able to be generous."
Customers, like Michelle Burford, are sticking up for the restaurant.
"This is the only place I know of that pays it forward," she said. "You can't go anywhere else and walk in and say I want a cup of coffee, they won't do it."
Evan is emotional after he says their family business of 46-years is being unjustly attacked on social media.
"Very hard to see because we've done so much," he added."I feel run over right now, but we will get back up."
As for Marisa, she says no one should boycott the restaurant just because she didn't like the hostess's tone.
"I think everyone should still come here and bring their business here and more importantly, if you can, donate to the Pay It Forward board."