A national restaurant chain has apologised after two people were allegedly kicked out of its Wimbledon branch because of their hearing assistance dog.

Louise DeNew, 51, described the 'horrible, horrible sight' when a middle-aged deaf gentleman and his wife were apparently kicked out of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) in The Broadway at around 7.15pm last Saturday evening (August 19).

Louise wrote on Facebook: “The small dog clearly wore an assistance dog harness and the deaf gentleman tried to show the manager the dog ID card on its lead.

“The manager wasn’t interested and, despite protests both from the couple and other customers, he ordered them out.

“My partner put a formal complaint to the manager who just shrugged and arrogantly stated it was GBK policy.”

At the time of publishing, the post has been ‘liked’ more than 3,100 times, shared more than 5,000 times and received more than 1,400 comments.

Ms DeNew told Wimbledon Guardian: “The couple were in the restaurant and seated when the duty manager approached and told them they would have to leave, saying it was company policy.

“The gentleman had speech difficulties so he was trying to hold up the dog’s hearing assistance credentials."

She added: "It wasn’t nice to witness so we left shortly after and my boyfriend went to complain, but was told by the chef behind the counter and waiting staff it was company policy.”

Ms DeNew said the woman was “so embarrassed” by the situation and took the dog out of the restaurant before customers realised what was happening.

She said: "She stood on the pavement in front of their staff and was speaking to the gentlemen in sign [language] and they were both visibly shaken and upset.”

Ms DeNew's partner Tom Richards, 39, of Kingswood Avenue in South Croydon, said: “I saw the man trying to explain to the staff with his lead and becoming upset because he couldn’t talk, he was holding it above his head and I then saw him being shown the door.

“He was becoming very agitated and animated, making noises at staff who ignored him.

“It wasn’t until I saw the woman and the dog leaving did I realise they were deaf and this was their only way of showing anger.

“I felt we let them down and they had left before we could react.”

“The three staff members I spoke to were unapologetic. They shrugged and the only words they said were, ‘It’s company policy’.”

Tom said the man was becoming “very agitated and animated” and “making noises”, but was ignored by staff.

Now GBK's chief executive Alasdair Murdoch has issued an apology.

He said: “I was very disappointed to learn of the incident at the weekend that occurred in our Wimbledon restaurant.

“At GBK we firmly believe in equality and the treatment of these customers was unacceptable. This in no way reflects the values of the company and we are truly sorry for the upset that was caused. We have taken this matter very seriously.

“All our restaurants accept assistance dogs and we are taking immediate action to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We are reviewing all training and are re-communicating with all members of staff regarding our inclusive policy.

“In the meantime we have been in touch with the customer affected to apologise and have resolved the situation directly.

“Again, we would like to apologise sincerely if we have offended anyone through this matter.”

GBK has since apologised to the couple directly, however the charity which provided them with the dog, Action on Hearing Loss, are still trying to track them down.