DUBLIN, Ohio (WCMH) – The owner of a local restaurant said he’s been receiving racist phone calls for years. Now, the surrounding community is stepping up and showing its support.
Vishal Patel opened up the Curry Up restaurant near Dublin in 2016.
He said that shortly after, in 2017, he started receiving phone calls ranging for innocent prank calls to violent, racist, disturbing ones.
Over the last four years, Patel said he received about 10 to 12 calls a month, reporting the especially disturbing ones to Columbus Police.
“I’m sorry, I just don’t want to repeat some of them because they are disturbing and it does kind of get me a little upset,” Patel said. “Sometimes, they definitely cross the line. There were a lot of not-so-nice things said about us, the business, as well as directed toward my family.”
Family is what brought Patel to Columbus in the first place. Born in India, his brother became a Buckeye, a path Patel followed.
“I do’t think we’ll ever leave and I hope my children feel the same way,” he said. “As they grow up here, they see how amazing this city is, how cultural it is, how many people are supporting here that they do decide to come back and live here and help grow the city.”
He initially didn’t want to speak out about this, but after a customer witnessed a call and shared what they heard online, Patel said the community has been coming in and offering its support in all kinds of ways.
Despite that, he said the positive attention has also brought more of the negative attention, at a time where his business needs to focus on doing its best.
“Just last Sunday, we had 18-23 phone calls and each one was between three to five minutes, tying up our phone lines during our busy hours for dinner,” Patel said. “So during the pandemic, that’s kind of really annoying because our life line is phone calls and online orders right now.”
Patel has reported several of the calls to police, but they say there’s only so much they can do. Patel said the calls have become more sophisticated, some being generated by computers, which is partially why, despite more than a dozen reports, police said there’s not much they can do.
“Some of the challenges we face as a department is the fact that they are calling from a number that is blocked or they’re saying certain things that are not necessarily illegal, but hurtful and offensive to a specific race group or gender,” said Columbus Police Sgt. James Fuqua.
But Patel said the police can’t stop hatred, so he’ll continue putting his faith into the community he loves.
“I understand that,” he said. “We try to work with them but sometimes things do fall through the cracks and we just hope that these phone calls stop.”
Since Patel started to share his story, he’s seen an outpouring of support from the community. One customer recently gave him a check for $1,000, which he donated to a restaurant relief fund.