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Boulder Restaurant Gets 'Overwhelmingly Positive' Response Amid Muslim Discrimination Claim

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Michael de Yoanna
/
KUNC
Craig Caldwell of White Fence Farms and Rashad Khan of Curry N Kebob.

Rashad Khan did not know what to expect when he shared his story about a landlord who allegedly turned his restaurant away because his family is Muslim.

Within hours of KUNC's publication, a huge response began to build - most of it in support of Khan and his Boulder restaurant, Curry N Kebob.

"The overwhelmingly positive, reinforcing feedback -- that's just what's struck me in general," said Khan in an interview at his restaurant on Monday.

People have stopped by his restaurant with supportive words. Online, they've posted comments ranging from disbelief to empathy. Some 500 comments have amassed across Reddit threads and on Facebook the story has been shared more than 700 times.

"We've known you and your restaurant since you've opened," one post read. "You are the kindest and most thoughtful people! You make our neighborhood great. Glad we can be there for you!"

Another post read: "I would love it if you opened your restaurant in Denver. My friends and I would eat there - we'd be happy to support you. I hope you can open a location here soon. Good luck and best wishes."

And another: "This is ridiculous... Longmont would love to have you!"

Khan has been bowled over by the comments.

"For them to just still reach out - it's affected them in some way where they need to say something - so I think that's been pretty fantastic," Khan said.

Khan, of Bangladeshi descent, came to the United States when he was 11. He wanted to expand Curry N Kebob into a space formerly occupied by a White Fence Farms fast-casual experiment in Denver's Capitol Hill.

White Fence's Craig Caldwell turned to his landlord, Katina Gatchis, with a plan to sublet to the Khan family. He says Gatchis turned the plan down for reasons that stunned him.

So he recorded his next interactions with her.

According to the tapes, the woman Caldwell identified as Gatchis told him to find an "American person… good like you and me."

She also said no to Muslims in the recordings.

"They bring all the Muslims from the Middle East and then I have a problem around here," she said. "Bomb, boom. Bomb, boom."

The recordings are part of a discrimination lawsuit filed in state district court. In legal filings, Gatchis, through her attorneys, has denied all allegations, including what's said in the recordings.

Khan and Caldwell's attorneys with the Rathod Mohamedbhai firm in Denver are prepared to go to trial, possibly in 2019.

"I think both of our clients want to tell their story to a jury," said Siddhartha Rathod, an attorney with the firm. "They want to have a jury decide what the outcome should be and that's what's great about this country."

At White Fence Farms' main Denver restaurant, a chicken dinner destination with a petting zoo, Caldwell received several votes of support. As he walked by one table, he said he heard his name as a customer read a printout of the article to her table as they dined.

He added that two families came to the restaurant for the first time to tell him that "it's good to know how you guys are."

"The overall feel was that, you know, we can disagree," Caldwell said. "Everybody's OK with that. Politically maybe we don't see eye-to-eye, but there's just no room for hate. That was the main theme we got out of it."

As for Khan, he said of the hundreds of comments he's seen, all expressed some kind of support. Just one took issue with the court case.

"There's one comment where it's a customer from here and he said, 'Love your restaurant, but this is America and anybody can say "No" to whoever they want,'" Khan said. "Well, I don't really agree with that."

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