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The restaurant that hosted JK Rowling’s women-only lunch is facing a backlash over claims that staff questioned the absence of any males.
The Harry Potter author organised the boozy gathering at the exclusive River Cafe in Hammersmith, West London, last weekend for campaigners who have also been targeted by the trans lobby.
One of the guests, journalist Suzanne Moore, revealed in an article that Ms Rowling was asked ‘No men?’ when she called the restaurant to book a private room for ten women.
JK Rowling organised the boozy gathering at the exclusive River Cafe in Hammersmith, West London, last weekend for campaigners who have also been targeted by the trans lobby
Critics reacted furiously to the revelation on social media, with one writing on Twitter: ‘I’ve often booked a restaurant table for a group that is only women and never been asked, ‘No men?’.
‘What kind of establishment is the River Cafe? Do they have an obligatory penis policy? Or are they trying to keep hen parties out?’
Another added: ‘I’ve literally never been asked the specific gender mix of any group booking I’ve made. The only thing I’ve ever been asked is if there’s any children. Why would they even want to know the gender of everyone going?’
And one asked: ‘Why would the restaurant ask whether there were men coming or not when booking a table? When I book a table I don’t expect to have to say it’s for four men, or four women. It’s a table for eight.’
Ms Rowling has been targeted by trans activists and ostracised by a number of Harry Potter actors – including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – since tweeting #IStandWithMaya in 2019 in support of Maya Forstater, who lost her job at a think-tank after saying that people cannot change their biological sex.
Ms Forstater, who won an employment tribunal last year over the case, was among the guests at the lunch.
One of the guests, journalist Suzanne Moore, revealed that Ms Rowling was asked ‘No men?’ when she called the restaurant to book a private room for ten women. Pictured: The River Cafe
Others included Labour MP Rosie Duffield, previously criticised for tweeting ‘only women have a cervix’; academic Kathleen Stock, who resigned her job at Sussex University following protests over her comments on transgender issues; and feminist campaigner Julie Bindel.
A photograph posted on Twitter by Ms Rowling showed the party drinking red and white wine.
Alongside it, she wrote: ‘There was a lunch and I’m not saying I’ve only just sobered up enough to type this tweet but at the same time, I’m not not saying that’, adding purple, green and white heart emojis and #respectmysex.
The restaurant was founded by two women, Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray, in 1987 and won a Michelin star ten years later.
Regular customers include Stella McCartney, Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow.