An Auckland chef fled his pizza store in fear after being punched by a customer who asked him if he believed in God.
The chef was working at Helensville Fire & Slice yesterday afternoon when a man entered the store carrying a beer and wanting to know where his meal was.
Owner Anuj Jangra said the man, who appeared to be drunk, dropped his beer on the counter and was asked to wait outside after making customers feel uncomfortable.
Jangra left the store for five minutes but during that time, the man asked the restaurant's pizza chef Kazi Shoaib, if he believed in God.
Shoaib said he was Muslim and that he did believe in God.
Jangra said the man then entered the kitchen and punched the chef in the face and ribs.
The chef, who was bleeding from his nose and mouth, ran to the petrol station next door.
Worker Bhavdeep Singh told the Herald he saw the bleeding chef approaching him with his hand over his mouth.
The pair went inside the gas station store and locked the front doors.
He said the man had followed the chef and was yelling at them through the store window and banging on the glass.
"I am scared, really scared," Singh said, recounting how he felt at that moment.
The man left before police arrived.
The chef is now recovering at home with a broken nose and waiting on the results of an x-ray to see if his jaw is also broken.
"He is doing all right but is not able to speak because of the cut on his upper lip," Jangra said.
The owner closed his business for the rest of the evening, cancelling around 30 orders.
Jangra said he was "a little bit" scared and worried about the future – but was grateful for the support he had received from the community and the police.
"The community is with me. They are being very supportive. They are calling me today and asking, 'are you ok?'. The community is very nice."
He had lived in the area for almost a decade and never experienced anything like this before, he said.
A police spokeswoman said a 28-year-old was arrested and charged with intent to injure and is due to appear in the North Shore District Court tomorrow.