Two Burger King customers tell Spanish-speaking manager to ‘Speak your Mexican at home’

¿Burger King, hogar del Whopper?

There’s a whopper of a controversy at the Miami-based fast-food chain. A video posted to Facebook went viral as it depicted an exchange between two elderly customers who objected to a store manager’s use of Spanish at a Eustis restaurant in Central Florida, the Daily Commercial reported.

In the video, posted July 6 on a private Facebook group page devoted to Mt. Dora/Eustis community conversations, one of the women, dressed in a blue blouse and black slacks says, “This is America. Our main language is English. ... Speak your Mexican at home.”

The manager responds, “Freedom of speech, ma’am. ... Guess what, ma’am, I’m not Mexican. You’re being very prejudiced and I want you out of my restaurant right now.”

The second woman, wearing a light pink top and black slacks, responds, “This isn’t your restaurant. It is not.”

The first woman says, “I’ll finish my meal and then I’ll go.”

The manager, who calls the women “ignorant,” threatens to call the police and report them as trespassers. The two women begin to leave.

“Just have a nice day and don’t come back,” he tells the pair.

“Don’t worry. We won’t!” the second woman said.

The Daily Commercial and Palm Beach Post identified the BK manager as Ricardo Castillo, who was born in Puerto Rico. He had spoken Spanish to an employee and was overheard by the unidentified women.

The franchise’s owner, he said, is Mexican.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the video was shot on a cellphone by Neyzha Borrero who was eating at the Burger King with her boyfriend Oni Martinez, who initially is seen chuckling as the confrontation becomes more heated. “You should record this,” he apparently says.

“I was very surprised,” Borrero told the Daily Commercial. “I think even though he was being verbally attacked and discriminated, he handled it very, very well.”

Borrero is Puerto Rican, like Castillo.

Burger King spokeswoman Dori Alvarez released a statement to NBC News:

“We expect employees and guests to treat each other with respect,” Alvarez’s statement said. “This incident took place at a franchised restaurant and the owner is looking into the matter.”

Battles over language aren’t new in Florida’s fast-food industry.

Last September, a Taco Bell clerk was caught on video when she refused to take the food order of a customer at a drive-thru window because the woman had ordered her meal in English.

“This is Hialeah,” the employee told the customer, who wound up not getting her order. The employee was reportedly fired by Taco Bell.

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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