Probe mauling of British chef in restobar, Cebu City cops urged

LOCAL officials in Cebu City are calling on the police to investigate a restobar in Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City where an internationally acclaimed chef and restaurateur was reportedly mauled by personnel working there on Dec. 23, 2022.

In a privilege speech before the Cebu City Council on Wednesday, Dec. 28, Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia called on the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to investigate the allegations made by his aunt, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, against some of the workers of F Café and Bar who allegedly mauled British chef Jason Atherton.

“This representation feels that something has to be done about it. Not only coming from a public official but also a father who has a daughter,” Vice Mayor Garcia said in his privilege speech.

In a statement she posted on her Facebook page on Tuesday, Dec. 27, Governor Garcia said she was dismayed with the restobar’s management after some of its workers held Atherton so he “couldn’t fight back.”

“On the night of December 23, while in the F Café and Bar with his wife and daughter, a group of guys beat him up. Worse, F Bar’s bouncers held him down so Jason couldn’t fight back. The lady manager joined in the melee, even providing a bottle to beat him further, the whole time condemning him and all foreigners as troublemakers,” the governor said in her post.

“This gracious, gifted man certainly did not deserve the shameful treatment he got, right here, in Cebu,” she added.

Gov. Garcia’s post came with a photo that shows Atherton’s face with bruises he sustained due to the beating.

Personnel of the Mabolo Police Station confirmed on Wednesday, Dec. 28, that the incident happened at dawn of Dec. 23.

The police said they responded to the incident and the parties involved were brought to the barangay hall in Kasambagan to settle the case.

The police did not name the other persons involved in the incident, but said the investigation is ongoing.

Based on Governor Garcia’s post, the trouble started after Atherton asked the group of men to apologize to his 17-year-old daughter for allegedly harassing her.

“These guys were harassing his daughter while she was waiting in line for the restroom. Jason asked them to apologize, as any father who loves his daughter would. Instead, they all ganged up on him, including F Bar’s people,” Garcia said.

“Shame on those who harassed Jason’s daughter then beat him up! Shame on the bouncers and lady manager of F Café and Bar! Shame! Shame! Shame!” she added.

Restobar denies claim

In a statement, the restobar’s management denied Garcia’s allegations.

It said that it “caters to people from all walks of life. Foreigners have been a major part of our clientele. The alleged incident occurred on Saturday, 24th December at 1:30 a.m. Everything was fine and peaceful at the bar that night when its security personnel noticed a commotion inside coming from certain customers that included Chef Atherton. A melee ensued and the natural reaction of security was to go between the parties to ensure that nobody got hurt and to pacify them. The manager, who just had an eye operation, also went to ensure that security was on top of the situation,” it said.

It added that based on a closed-circuit television footage, it was Atherton who initiated the attack.

“While we try to ensure that everybody feels good in our establishments, we have no control over the actions of others. We deeply regret what happened to Chef Atherton and the other parties involved in the fracas,” it said.

The management said they decided to issue a statement after they received negative comments from netizens.

Atherton is a renowned Michelin Star chef who owns the Pollen Street Social, published several cookbooks, and appeared in cooking shows including MasterChef World and MasterChef Australia. He owns restaurants in London, Shanghai, Dubai, Mykonos and St. Moritz.

Atherton is the co-owner of Pig and Palm, a restaurant in Cebu City. He is married to Irha, a Cebuana restaurateur. (ANV / LMY, JKV)