A Los Angeles resident claims that he was harassed by an employee for kissing another man while dining at the Echo Park location of El Compadre this week, and the incident has since spread quickly across social media. Comedian and actor Drew Droege first shared his account of the incident on Tuesday via Instagram, saying that he was out on a date that turned sour unexpectedly, with a rather “sad, hateful moment in the middle.”
Eater LA spoke with Droege about the incident. While on a Monday night date, Droege says, the two men paid their tab and were finishing their drinks. “We had our arms around each other and kissing a little bit [when] this new person came up to us,” he says. “I incorrectly assumed that he was going to ask if we wanted another round, but he came up and said, ‘This isn’t allowed here.’ I was confused, and he said, ‘Excuse me, this is a family restaurant.’ I asked him if people [were] complaining about what we were doing, and he waved his hands in front of our face and just said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re the president of the United States, you guys are not allowed to do that here.’”
Droege was sure to note that the alleged interaction was isolated to one employee. “We had a wonderful, delightful, talkative, incredibly friendly waiter,” he says. “We talked about where we were from, and he could not have been nicer. Aside from the one incident, it was overall a great experience.”
The restaurant — which opened its first location in 1975 on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood — posted a statement on Instagram (shown below) on Tuesday, December 13, in response to an outpouring of comments and messages on social media, but deleted it soon after. The company also disabled commenting on its Instagram page. Droege’s post currently has more than 18,000 likes and hundreds of comments from prominent figures, including transgender actress Angelica Ross.
Though Los Angeles has a prominent queer community, there have been a number of alleged incidents of homophobia and transphobia in recent years. In November 2021, Long Beach’s R Bar owner was caught on video during a homophobic and anti-mask rant. In 2018, a Crenshaw Yoshinoya supervisor allegedly hurled racist and homophobic threats against a cook, and also threatened the worker with deportation. And in 2019, a woman claimed she was singled out while kissing her girlfriend at Langer’s Delicatessen, though the owner stated that no public affection at their restaurant is a long-standing policy, regardless of orientation.
Droege says that he had previously dined at El Compadre’s Hollywood location as well as the Echo Park space, but will not return to either. “We’d only been on a few dates and just kind of wandered out of there,” says Droege. “I won't [come] here anymore because we don’t feel safe.”
Droege’s full Instagram post is below. Eater reached out to El Compadre on Tuesday and will update if the restaurant responds.
UPDATE: El Compadre posted a statement via Instagram on Wednesday night. The restaurant apologized for the actions of the lone manager and told followers the manager was fired. The full post is below.