Bikers claim Rosebud Hotel discriminated against them after Peninsula Toy Run

BIKERS enjoying a drink after a Christmas toy run are claiming discrimination after they were asked to move to the back bar of a peninsula hotel.

The bikers, who had distributed about $5000 worth of toys on the annual charity Peninsula Toy Run on Saturday, also claim the group of about 15 riders were asked to remove their vests so they wouldn’t “upset” families.

They are now calling on people to boycott the Rosebud Hotel, and set up a Facebook page over the weekend to protest their alleged treatment.

“We just wanted one drink and were sitting out the front because it was a warm day,” Southern Social Club Riders member Wendy Powney said.

“We were just sitting there, we weren’t loud or swearing.”

Hotel director Andrew Nikakis told Leader the group was asked if they would mind moving to another bar if they planned to stay for more than one drink, but he denied the manager asked them to remove their jackets or vests.

“It is hotel policy that unless prior arrangements have been agreed on, we discourage large groups of motorbike riders in club leathers to attend our family-friendly bistro due to issues we have had in the past with a number of these groups intimidating our staff and customers,” Mr Nikakis said today.

“Our policy reflects this unfortunate reality, as it is so difficult to distinguish between patched or illegal bikie gangs and legitimate law-abiding club members (such as this one, on Saturday).”

Mr Nikakis said he applauded legitimate groups such as the Southern Social Club Riders’ work on the toy run and other charity work.

“We genuinely apologise for any offence caused,” he said.

Baron Tobias takes a quick break before heading off for the Peninsula Toy Run. Picture: Sarah Matray

Mrs Powney, who lives in Cranbourne, said it was her first year on the toy run, which had been very successful.

“We had some Harleys and some Hondas, and many of us were dressed in Santa gear,” she said.

After they sat down in the open, front area of the hotel, a woman came to us and asked if we would remove our vests.

“We said, ‘why?’ And she said that they might upset families coming for lunch,” Mrs Powney said.

“But we had families walking past, kids looking at our bikes — we were waving to kids. We said, ‘no, we’re not going out the back’. We said we’d finish our drinks and leave, although two members did stay on.”

Mrs Powner said the group would not return to the pub.

“We’re not a patched club. We are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents (who) have just helped your community.

“It’s just a real stereotype. We’re bikers, not bikies.”

Pearcedale rider John Smollen, who died in 2013, founded the charity toy run after more than 20 years as a member of Ulysses motorcycle club.

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Allison Harding
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