Police were called and a North Shore man was slapped with a trespass order after his 11-year-old daughter was asked to leave an Albany restaurant because she didn't order dinner.
Abdulah Khader, 38, took his wife and daughter to a Korean restaurant Kumkang Mountain where they ordered two mains and a drink for about $40.
Their daughter wasn't hungry, he said, so she just ordered a $5 drink.
But the restaurant, which serves unlimited refills of banchan, or Korean side dishes, has a minimum order policy of one meal per person.
Staff, Khader claimed, said his daughter had to leave the restaurant because the family did not adhere to this policy.
"They were worried that she was going to eat the side dishes, but I said where do you want her to go? She cannot be waiting in the car," he said.
"This is a Korean restaurant policy that should have remained in Korea, and it has no place in New Zealand."
Police were called and Khader was issued with a trespass notice after he raised a furore.
Sergeant Kelly Joyce of North Shore Police said police received an emergency call from the restaurant around 7.30pm on
Staff told police that the man had been asked to leave the restaurant and would not, and that he was intimidating and swearing at staff.
Police spoke to both parties and the owner of the restaurant said that he wanted the customer to be trespassed.
"In order to resolve this situation and de-escalate the conflict, police served the customer with the trespass notice on behalf of the occupier," Joyce said.
The restaurant denied that the daughter or anyone else were asked to leave the restaurant as a result of its dining policy.
Khader, a store assistant from Glenfield, said he was upset when told of the restaurant policy and that his side dishes would not be refilled.
He said he was a regular at the restaurant and was aware of the policy, which was also stated on its menu.
"But how can you force someone to order when she is not hungry," Khader said.
Restaurant manager Stella Lee, 28, said: "He hit the table and chair ... me and the staff felt intimidated and threatened.
"I asked him to leave but he said he will not.
"One of our customers asked me to call the police as he was very aggressive and threatening."
Lee said she tried to appease Khader by agreeing to refill the side dishes comprising chive pancakes, braised beef, kimchi, bean sprouts, chestnut jelly and potatoes.
"He still wasn't happy, and we just didn't know what else to do," she said.
Lee said banchan was fundamental to Korean dining, and most meals ordered at Kumkang Mountain came with between six and eight sides.
"We have the policy because we will be losing money if groups of people come in and just feast on free refills of banchan," she said.
A Restaurant Association snap poll of 105 members found 5 per cent had a minimum spend policy.
Another 15 per cent said they imposed minimum spend for certain occasions such as group bookings.
When asked if people who came but did not order food were a problem at their establishments, more than three in 10 said yes.
"Our problem seems to be predominantly with Asian groups, we have had a table of eight ordering two meals," said one respondent.
"It has gotten so bad I have turned groups of them away saying we are fully booked."
However, some felt a minimum meal policy was a "big no".
"It really does not matter how many share one meal, we should be thankful the customer for buying that meal from us," the respondent said.
Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said restaurant owners needed to communicate clearly with customers, such as having signs up, stating its dining policies.
"Essentially we believe if a policy is in place by a restaurant, that it needs to be clear to the public that it is the policy," she said.
"The problem happens when people don't understand what your policies are and what procedures you have in place."
Consumer New Zealand said restaurants can set minimum charges, but they should make the customer aware of these.