Looks like this Shinjuku eatery is a boys’ night out option after all.

Tokyo restaurant ConTERRAZZA, located in the nightlife neighborhood of Kabuki-cho, found itself at the center of an Internet firestorm recently due to its policy of refusing service to all-male groups of diners, as well as men wishing to dine alone. Though the rule had been in place since the Italian restaurant’s opening on July 6, it wasn’t until September 17 that it began to really attract attention, when a photo of the sign placed outside the establishment’s entrance, with an X (the symbol for “unacceptable” or “not allowed” in Japanese signage) placed over illustrations of male diners without a woman in their party, was shared on Twitter.

“So we’ve entered an age when men no longer have the right to eat Italian food!” tweeted the uploader of the photo (which has since been deleted). This set off a debate, in which some called the practice clearly discriminatory in enacting a blanket ban on men who were unaccompanied by a female dining companion. Others felt that the restaurant should be allowed to turn away whomever it wanted, and yet a third group thought it was simply a pragmatic choice, since ConTERRAZZA, being an all-you-can-eat buffet that also offers all-you-can-drink alcohol, is likely to incur greater expenses by having to accommodate male customers and their typically larger appetites/greater capacity for consuming booze.

As the tweet continued to circulate in Japanese online communities, a representative from Shinjuku Metro Group, the company that manages ConTERRAZZA (along with other restaurants, pachinko parlors, and batting cage centers) gave a statement in hopes of clarifying the restaurant’s rationale.

“Kabuki-cho is known as being a place where many groups of men gather, which makes women feel uneasy about entering restaurants. We thought this would be a way to make things easier for them. We don’t see this as discriminating against men at all, nor did we have any intention of turning away people with gender dysphoria. This was also not a decision we made because we though men would eat too much at the buffet.”

Although the statement doesn’t include anything that can be construed as a direct apology to those who took offense at the no-males policy, ConTERRAZZA has decided to reverse its stance after being contacted by numerous people who called the ban unfair. As of the night of September 20, men are allowed to dine at ConTERRAZZA without a female companion, and the sign that started the commotion is no longer being placed outside the entrance. The restaurant’s page on Guru Navi, one of Japan’s largest restaurant information websites, has also been modified. Its previous proclamation as “The first restaurant in Japan to prohibit all-male groups!” is no longer present, and the page explicitly mentions that the restaurant has restrooms for male customers, and so ConTERRAZZA’s bounty of unlimited food and drink is now accessible to one and all.

Restaurant information
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabuki-cho, 1-23-14, Dai Ichi Metro Building 1st floor
東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1‐23‐14 第一メトロビル1F
Open: 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Related: ConTERRAZZA Facebook, Guru Navi
Source: Yahoo! News Japan/J-Cast News
Top image: Guru Navi