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Short Black

Can we have the bill? And hold the attitude

Are Sydney restaurants seating customers based on not-so-hidden ageist criteria?

The offending receipt at Li'l Darlin.
The offending receipt at Li'l Darlin. 

If the wait staff at Li'l Darlin in Darlinghurst are looking for a tip, perhaps they should ditch the free insults with the restaurant bill.  

Judy Barnsley was shocked to find the words ''Old People'' on her bill, presumably as a description so staff could easily match Barnsley and her dining companion with their receipt.

''We aren't that old, 59 and 61,'' she says.

But Barnsley smells a rat in Sydney's burgeoning wine and food scene.

''We've often encountered subtle ageism in Sydney restaurants where, for example, we are marched to an obscure table down the back or just ignored, but we've never seen it codified before … What's even more galling, we're both native to the inner city, having lived in Darlo and around more or less since we left school, unlike these newcomers.''

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Li'l Darlin owner Gary Linz is apologetic about the incident.

''The guy who did this was fired the next day,'' he says.

''Li'l Darlin doesn't discriminate against anyone. We tried table numbers but people moved them around. Normally they'll just write something like 'person in red T-shirt'.''

Using restaurant receipts as a canvas for waiter expression has been going on for at least a decade. Some time ago a Sydney cafe inserted the word ''Bitch'' as the special dish on a receipt.

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