A fierce row has broken out between a Wellington restaurateur and United Future Party leader Peter Dunne, over a table booking for one of the city’s most in-demand eateries.
The trouble began when Mr Dunne attempted to book a table at Wellington’s Acropolis Cafe for his caucus’ annual Christmas lunch.
According to Mr Dunne the co-owner of the cafe, Dmitry Kalifanipolipopolis, was rude and insulting to him over the telephone.
“I rang the cafe on Friday hoping to secure a table for my team, because they have some tremendous authentic Greek and Turkish fare there, but I know how busy the place can be at lunchtime,” said Mr Dunne.
“I wasn’t expecting to be so insulted.
“The owner yelled back down the phone at me, calling me an idiot, and then he hung up.”
Mr Dunne said he had decided to come forward for the good of the hospitality industry.
“I’m thick-skinned, because you have to be able to take the knocks when you’re in politics. I only decided to go public with this because the kind of treatment I experienced really isn’t acceptable for the service industry, and it ruins it for those who are trying hard to present New Zealand as a friendly destination for visitors.”
Mr Dunne said he suspected Mr Kalifanipolipopolis might have been motivated by a political grudge.
“If Mr Kalifanipolipopolis has a problem with the United Future Party or any of my caucus members, then that’s fine. But he should come clean and be open about it.”
Greek-born Dmitry Kalifanipolipopolis admitted he was rude to Mr Dunne, but claimed he was provoked.
“This guy ring me, say he is Peter Dunne and then say he want to book a table at lunchtime for his caucus team.
“I say to him ‘Peter Dunne, whadda are you even talking about? You don’t have a no caucus team.’
“He then say I shoulda no be so rude and I say to him ‘listen, we not take a no bookings, you idiot!’
“Then I slam a down the phone on him. I thought he was maybe one of those, what do you call it, crank callers, and I get a little angry.”
The United Future leader has bristled at suggestions his party has no caucus.
“We are a caucus of one, and you should never underestimate the Power of One,” said Mr Dunne.
“Which is a cracking good book, by the way. I avidly devour anything written by Bryce Courtenay, who in my opinion is the Shakespeare of the Southern Hemisphere and deserves much more acclaim than he gets. He beats Wilbur Smith hands down, every single time.
“I am very proud of my team, and we are probably the most united caucus in the current parliament.”
But Mr Kalifanipolipopolis said he was not impressed with Mr Dunne.
“He a crazy man. How am I take table booking for a kebab shop in a foodhall?”