Ikea spoils the fun for Shanghai pensioners
Ikea bans 'illegal' blind-dating group from store cafeteria in Shanghai
Many are divorcees or people living alone after the death of a partner
Ikea has banned an elderly matchmaking group from one of its restaurants in China unless it agrees to start paying up.
The Swedish retailer has told its cafeteria in Shanghai to stop anyone having a seat unless they buy food.
Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon for years, hundreds of elderly people have flooded into the restaurant to meet friends and potential partners, according to China Daily.
Many are divorcees or people living alone after the death of a partner and the café gave them a chance to meet peers free of charge.
Despite a 700-seat capacity the venue was often overcapacity, but since the change crowds have shrunk by as much as half.
The “no food, no seat” rule came into force following complaints that paying customers were unable to sit at a table themselves.
A noticeboard put up at the café entrance states the “illegal blind-dating group” is affecting the restaurant with their “uncivilised behaviour,” reports JF Daily.
Offences include “taking up seats for long hours, bringing outside food and tea, speaking loudly, spitting, and having quarrels and fights”.
"It's true that we gather here to socialize with our peers,” a retired factory worker told China Daily. “But the last thing we want is to cause trouble and become a disgrace.”
"We've been to McDonald's and KFC. But there are barely any peers there. We feel like aliens there - surrounded by youngsters.
“If there is another place in Shanghai where elderly people can gather, we are more than ready to pay twice as much and travel farther."
But the new rules have not stopped the tenacious singles from enjoying their day out. They now reportedly just buy the cheapest item on the menu; a croissant costing 4 yuan (49p).