'Austrians only': Outrage after restaurant refuses to serve foreigners

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
'Austrians only': Outrage after restaurant refuses to serve foreigners
A restaurant owner in Carinthia has controversially refused service to foreigners. Photo: Creative Commons/Mikekilo74

A restaurant owner in Carinthia is under fire after introducing a “locals only” policy during peak tourist season in Austria.


A Carinthian restaurant owner has been accused of racism after he placed a sign outside his business last week stating he would only be serving Austrians.

Stefan Lercher, who runs Pizzeria Peppino in Millstatt, Carinthia, defended the move by saying the restaurant is too busy and he can’t serve everyone.

The Kronen Zeitung reports that Lercher said: “I can’t keep up with work at the moment, I'm swimming! So one day there was pizza only for locals.”

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Some people took to social media to call out the restaurant owner. 

One guest has since taken to TripAdvisor to complain about the policy and said: “If you ask for the card or information you are kicked out. No food without reservation, but the phone is ringing for hours with no response. There is Japanese and Italian food available, but not for Italian and Japanese ppl [people].”

This follows earlier complaints on the review platform about “rude” behaviour from the restaurant staff. 

In July, Bella from the UK said: “No matter how good the reviews for this restaurant are, they will never get our custom. Manners cost nothing.”

And in July 2022, Tspela from Slovenia wrote: “We didn't even get the table because the waiter was very rude. We kindly asked him if we can wait for the table but he just shouted: ‘one hour or more’.

"We felt so unwelcome that in the end I am glad we didn't eat there. I have never been treated in that way before. Would not recommend.”

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'No Arabs'

This is not the first time that restaurateur Lercher has hit the headlines for refusing to serve certain groups of people. 

In January, he banned "Arabs, vegans, hippies and ecos" from his restaurant, later citing exhaustion after years in the catering industry and no motivation to talk to guests.

In an Instagram story, the restaurant posted: “This is how the Peppino team starts the new year. We would like to inform you all that our restaurant will be closed on January 16th, 2023 and will reopen on January 19th, 2023 with 6 tables for our regular guests and locals.

"So it is possible for everyone while stocks last. Vegans, hippies, ecos and Arabs excluded. Happy New Year to your Peppino team."

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The incident was reported in German and Swiss news outlets and human rights organisation SOS Mitmensch filed an official complaint against the owner. 

Shortly after, Lercher denied he was racist and the Carinthia Chamber of Commerce told ORF that any innkeeper has the right to turn away guests if they are full.

Millstatt sits on the edge of Lake Millstatt which is described as the “Jewel of Carinthia” by the official Carthina tourist board. It is a popular holiday destination for both Austrians and foreigners.

A restaurant owner in Carinthia has controversially refused service to foreigners.


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