A diner claims he was "fat shamed" at a restaurant after the manager allegedly rubbed his belly and asked other customers to take photos of him with the "massive guy".
The male member of staff has since left the business following Tuesday's incident while the Hartlepool restaurant has offered Scott Chapman an apology and a free meal.
Mr Chapman, who is from Hartlepool, insists customers at the Jumbo Chinese Buffet, in Park Road, were also encouraged to take photos of the manager with him and when they refused the employee tried to take a selfie with him.
Describing himself as "crushed", the 6ft 6in housing support officer, who does not wish to disclose his weight, said the experience had really knocked his confidence and made him think twice about trying new restaurants.
The 23-year-old said they had been sat down enjoying their meal when staff brought a couple in to sit near them.
Mr Chapman said: “The other customer, who I actually knew, went to walk past me and the manager said ‘you are too big, You are massive. Nobody can get past you’.
“I looked at him and said ‘really?’ and he just walked off. I turned to my mate and said ‘has he really just referred to me as massive? I was in shock.
“My friend said ‘he definitely just called you massive’. I couldn’t believe it.
“One of the waitresses came back over and I said to her ‘is that guy always that rude?’ She was also in shock and asked me if I wanted to speak to him. I said no but asked her to tell him we were upset about the way he made a reference to my weight."
Mr Chapman said a similar exchange later followed, recalling: “By that point I was angry. I couldn’t believe that somebody would think it is okay to make reference to someone’s weight in the middle of a restaurant."
He claims the manager later rubbed his stomach, adding: “I said to him if he did not get off my stomach I would move him off. I would not have assaulted him. I’m not that kind of guy but I couldn’t believe he was insulting me and then rubbing my stomach.
“He kept calling me massive guy – which is like the worst superhero name ever.
“It was absolutely crushing to be fair. It takes a lot for me to go out as it is. I suffer badly with anxiety and depression anyway.
“I have my own anxieties regardless of my size and worry about whether people are watching me eat. You have your own thoughts and then somebody adds to it by coming over and calling you names.
Staff at Jumbo Chinese Buffet told the Mail on Friday that they apologise for the incident and that the worker involved is no longer employed at the restaurant.
They added that they hope to contact Mr Chapman personally to issue a formal apology and he will be welcome back any time.
A spokesman said: “We are so sorry about that and we would like to meet Mr Chapman to say sorry face to face and offer him a free meal.”
Mr Chapman added: “I do not want him to lose his job because he might have a family to support. He might have just made an absolutely stupid mistake but that doesn’t really excuse it.
“I would urge the restaurant not to sack him but I would urge them to give him some training and educate him on what’s appropriate.
“There was a group of us meant to be going there for a meal next week but it is safe to say we are not going now.”