Oversize Man Sues White Castle Over Seats

Updated: Tuesday, 13 Sep 2011, 3:21 PM EDT
Published : Sunday, 11 Sep 2011, 6:59 AM EDT

By NewsCore

NANUET, N.Y. –  A 290-pound New York man is steaming mad at the White Castle fast-food chain, which he claims repeatedly broke promises to make the booths in his local eatery bigger.

Martin Kessman, 64, filed a lawsuit against the fast-food giant last week in Manhattan federal court, claiming that the uncomfortable booths violate the civil rights of fat people.

Kessman’s lawsuit came more than two years after he complained to White Castle about the size of the booths at the Nanuet, N.Y., eatery and reportedly received a pledge that renovations would be carried out to cater for larger customers.

“They sent me specs and everything, about how the booths were going to be enlarged and made comfortable for people with a little more weight. So two and a half years went by, and nothing was done,” he told the NY Post , adding that he has no problem finding a place to take a load off at other fast-food places and fits easily into airline seats.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is “applicable — not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people,” according to Kessman, who is suing for bigger chairs and unspecified damages. “I just want to sit down like a normal person.”

Read more: http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/oversize-man-sues-white-castle-over-seats-20110911-NCX#ixzz1XseQY1bH

 I was asked to comment on this news report today.  So here goes:

(I am not prepared to comment on the validity of the law suit regarding “the civil rights of fat people.”  I am not sure where I stand on whether or not “fat” should be a protected class.  Therefore, I will stick with what I know and believe about my own experience.)

At 372 lbs, walking into a restaurant was always an anxiety adventure.  Some restaurants had inside seating and outside seating.  While I was always tempted to request outside seating, since 95% of outside seating involves tables and chairs, the mere request sent anxiety through my body.  Being seated outside, while a relief because I did not have to worry about trying to squeeze into a booth, meant that either I would sweat through the whole meal (without A/C) and/or the chairs would be either flimsy plastic or hollow aluminum (which would mean that I would sit extremely still through the entire meal in fear that a leg would bend or break under my weight).  Either way, I was not very comfortable.   In the event that inside seating was chosen, if they asked about a booth or a table, I would always select a table.  A table and chair gave me way more room… well, usually… unless the tables were only about a foot apart and someone’s back was already very close to my chair.  If I was seated at a booth, I would always pray for a table that was not attached to the floor or wall so that the skinny people could sit on the opposite side and I could push the table towards them as far as possible.  Again, pretty embarrassing and uncomfortable either way.

As for the specific White Castle situation, I feel for the guy.  While I am tempted to say the same remarks that others have said today, such as “quit eating at white castle and you won’t need bigger seats.”  The reality is that White Castle relies on the money generated by its overweight customers.  Reality is that people who are eating healthy, either do not frequent White Castle or do not go there at all.  They do not make healthy, unprocessed food, to my knowledge, and the majority of their money is made from overweight and obese people going to their restaurant.  Why are the companies not sympathetic to these overweight and obese people and changing their restaurant to suit the needs of their best customers?  From a business prospective, I don’t understand that.  McDonalds used to have the same molded and attached chairs and tables at their restaurants and it didn’t take them long to begin including movable chairs so that their customers could fit at their tables.

My opinion is this… fat people need to eat, too.  Granted they probably should not be eating a lot of things that they are eating, the restaurant industry should be looking at the demographic of their current customer base and should be catering to that demographic.  I have not conducted a scientific survey, but from my own observation it is clear that there are more “larger” people in the restaurants these days than there are smaller people.  No matter how much smaller people want to force the larger ones to lose weight, it is not going to happen in an hour or even in a year or two for most people.  It is a gradual and slow process- as it SHOULD be- otherwise, the boomerang effect will come into play and all of the weight will return within a couple of years! 

Here is my proposed restaurant plan: 1) Adjust the restaurants to fit the customer base.  Tables and moveable chairs in at least half of the restaurant, with plenty of space between chairs for “real” people to sit. 2) Revamp the menu reducing the calories and sodium in each and every meal.  3) Move away from processed foods towards whole, locally grown foods.  4) Readjust your restaurant to fit the new slimmer customer base.

This plan will keep your customers from feeling anxious every time they come to your restaurant.  Then as you begin to make the dietary changes to your menu, your customers, since they are comfortable in your restaurant now that it is suited for them, will stick with you and try the new food.  As the customers begin to switch to the new food, the customers will begin to lose weight.  Additionally, once you have changed to whole, unprocessed foods, the healthy eaters will also begin to come to your restaurant, increasing your profits.  Finally, when your customer base has shrunk (in size, but not in number), you can once again adjust your restaurant to suit your new size of customer and carry on.

Seems pretty simple to me.  Let’s do it!!!


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