There were others who would also come to Gerhardt's rescue that day. In another scene where our actress ordered a bacon cheeseburger, she was surrounded by tables of female patrons. When they heard the waiter's healthy food suggestions, the surrounding women were outspoken in their support for Gerhardt.
One customer, Cyndi Crawford, shook her with disdain and said, "What business is it of his? He's going to wear that menu because that was very rude."
When our waiter brought out tonic water instead of the milkshake Gerhardt ordered, the support turned into anger.
From a neighboring table, Cheryl Zwaroch minced no words.
"You better get into another line of business," she snapped.
Crawford agreed: "Do what you're paid for. It's not your business."
All the women were relieved when our cameras appeared. Crawford told John Quinones they were ready to put up a fight, saying, "Big girls unite!"
But not everyone shared in their outrage. One man who witnessed this scene thought it was Gerhardt who was being difficult. "I thought she was being too hard on the waiter and I thought the other people should mind their own business. I thought the waiter had good intentions. [The waiter] thought she had a weight problem -- try and encourage her," he said.
But he was in the minority. Most customers, especially women, jumped to the defense of our overweight actress.
For the second half of this experiment, our waiter was replaced by Ashley Michaelson, an attractive, thin actress. Would having a pretty woman waiting on Gerhardt make a difference?
Coincidentally, the majority of the restaurant tables filled up with men while our waitress took Gerhardt's order. As Gerhardt requested a bacon cheeseburger, Michaelson looked concerned as she gave Gerhardt a barrage of healthy food suggestions. "You could get a side salad instead of the onion rings."
Her comments went on: "I have a lot of overweight friends and I try to help them, too. I exercise and I eat right. I figured I could be your inspiration."
Although Gerhardt was visibly upset and pleaded with Michaelson to stop insulting her, no one came to her defense. Instead, Michaelson was met with smiles and encouraging comments from men at the neighboring tables. One man even invited our waitress to join their table. At another table, men offered words of support to Michaelson but said nothing to Gerhardt.
This reaction did not surprise Gerhardt, who said, "I had a feeling when I saw a room full of men that they weren't going to stand up for me and sort of accuse her. It's just the way it is."
But when the patrons were women, they did confront Ashley. Unlike the men, Julie Campo gave Gerhardt words of support, "Oh my God -- that is so rude. They should pay for your lunch at least."
Not only did Campo offer advice to Gerhardt, she also had words for our waitress as well: "That was very rude what you just did to this woman. She's the customer."
All eyes were on this confrontational scene between this real patron, Campo, and our actress, Michaelson, when John Quinones made his entrance. Campo gave a sigh of relief as she embraced both actresses with hugs and laughter.
"I sometimes let things go, so to stand up -- oh my goodness! I feel like I did something good today!" exclaimed Campo.
Our overweight actress, Gerhardt, agreed and said, "People have stood up for me time and time again so that gives me real hope."