“When it gets busy, it kind of holds us down."
Restaurant owner Vishal Patel, of the Curry Up Indian Grill in Ohio, USA, has spoken out about years of threatening, racist phone calls.
The 39-year-old revealed that he receives around five to 10 calls per month from private or blocked numbers.
He does not know the callers but he believes the same three people are calling and hanging up, placing bogus orders and making disturbing comments.
Mr Patel said: “They’ve said that they’re going to come and shoot up the place.
“And they’re going to come and shoot me in the head. (They’ve said), ‘You better be careful. You never know, your place could burn down in the middle of the night’.”
He added that sometimes, the comments include racial slurs.
“They said, ‘curry head,’ ‘towel head,’ (things) like, ‘You need to go back to your country. Nobody likes Indians’.”
One employee, Carson Chheang, said the calls have been happening since he started working there two years ago.
He said: “It’s getting really annoying.
“When it gets busy, it kind of holds us down. I personally thought the police would be more involved.”
Mr Patel has filed numerous police complaints, however, according to Sergeant James Fuqua, the police are limited in what they can do without more details on the callers.
Sergeant Fuqua said: “I get his frustration, believe me, I do. We can only follow up if he gets more accurate information.”
The restaurant owner has refrained from speaking out publicly but his ordeal gained attention after another restaurant, Bake Me Happy, received racial threats of violence on January 10, 2021.
A customer and friend of Mr Patel’s wrote a Reddit post about the threatening phone calls. Since then, Mr Patel has welcomed the heartfelt comments.
He told The Columbus Dispatch: “Everyone’s coming in and saying they support us and this stuff shouldn’t happen.
“We want to be a community business. That’s why we take our time to talk to our guests and get to know them. Being connected to someone makes a big difference.
“When they get to know you, they are more understanding and more accepting.”
He thinks the callers could be previous employees or students playing pranks.
Despite the racist slurs, he does not believe the calls are racially motivated.
“I don’t believe race plays into it. I think there are just some evil people in the world.”
“I am an eternal optimist, and everyone says that makes me a little naive, but we’ve got to have faith and believe in people.”
He added that he has learned to have thick skin.
“Being an immigrant and being a minority, having spent 27 years to get my citizenship here, I realised it’s part of coming to a new country.
“I can’t let everything affect me.”
Sergeant Fuqua said the police department does not currently track hate crimes because they are often underreported.
He explained: “Many people don’t even realise that they are a victim of a potential hate crime.
“(Also), they’re so busy trying to run their business, they’ll say, ‘Oh, I’ll call them later,’ and then forget about it, which happens quite often.”
The restaurant owner revealed that the threats have increased, saying that one caller referenced the Reddit post and said it was not going to stop them.
“(They said), ‘We know where you live in Hilliard’.”
Mr Patel said the callers have never come to his restaurant, to his knowledge.
However, he has reported suspicious vehicles in the car park to the police.
In 2019, the restaurant was burgled, but he does not know if it was related.
He said that the Reddit post has been a positive, but is waiting to see how things pan out.
“I’d like to bring people together with my food.
“I don’t want to use it to tear people apart. Hopefully, this does show other business owners that if they are going through something similar, they can speak out. It gives them courage.”