What was supposed to be a night of celebration at the Drake One Fifty late last month turned into what Kira della Stua describes as a trauma, after she was sexually assaulted by one of the restaurant's customers.
The incident happened when the 26-year-old medical researcher went to the upscale eatery at 150 York St. near Adelaide St. W. with her boyfriend to celebrate a friend's birthday.
According to della Stua, she was on her way back from the washrooms sometime after midnight on Saturday, Jan. 28 when a man grabbed her by the wrists, pushed his groin into hers and said, "F--k me."
She said she wriggled out of his grip, ran back to the table where she told her friends and the manager was immediately alerted.
She was surprised at how "quickly the shock from assault sets in and how small you begin to feel. Your environment begins to close in." But della Stua says what upset her wasn't so much the assault by a "very drunk individual" but the restaurant staff's response, which she describes as insensitive.
"There are many drunk guys out there who act belligerent. And who is to know if he was even coherent?" she asked, "But what I do know is that the Drake staff was [coherent]."
The manager told her he would get security and that they would review the bar's video footage right away. In the interim she said she was approached by other male employees of the restaurant.
The bar staff eventually confirmed her account, she says, and the man who allegedly assaulted her was told to leave.
She also alleged that there were particularly uncaring comments made to her by an employee who refused to give his name and title.
She accuses the staff member of being dismissive of the experience, asking her "what the big deal was," and even suggesting she confront the alleged attacker before he was asked to leave the bar.
"A policy and protocol should not question the experience or the intensity of the experience. The experience happened, so what do you do?" della Stua told CBC Toronto.
She added it's not her role to advise the company like on how to approach these situations but she thought a female staff member should have been part of the first response.
With bruises on her wrist and hand the next day, della Stua went back to Drake One Fifty — again with her boyfriend. This time, she wanted to know what the staff would do if something like this happened again.
After speaking with a female staff member and the same manager, she left demoralized.
'I really don't know if the Drake has a protocol or not. They claim that they do but I have not seen them follow anything that is proper safety and legal decisions to protect their customers.' - Kira della Stua
With sexual assault convictions like that of a Brampton man filmed plying a woman with alcohol at a club and growing international campaigns like "Ask Angela," and "Good Night Out" which encourage bar staff to end harassment, della Stua said her experience left her with big question marks.
"I really don't know if the Drake has a protocol or not. They claim that they do but I have not seen them follow anything that is proper safety and legal decisions to protect their customers," she said.
She vented her frustrations on social media. Soon after, the restaurant posted a response to her on the social media site calling it "an alarming story" that was being pursued by "managers who have notes on the incident."
The post invited della Stua to get in touch and offered assistance if she chose "to pursue this further with police."
That's part of what they don't understand, della Stua said. "They were trying to make the situation more about the drunk man and not about their way they were dealing with the situation. I am very upset."
'We have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of harassment, we do train our staff to handle situations like this.' - Shivani Marx, The Drake
In a statement Shivani Marx, the restaurant's chief operating officer and former director of human resources wrote about the organization's responsibility as a leader in the industry.
"We just want to reiterate that we have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of harassment, we do train our staff to handle situations like this," Marx wrote.
She said an internal review is underway, as well, "to ensure that any mistakes aren't repeated."