Members of the Black sorority Delta Sigma Theta claim that they were recently racially profiled at a Ohio Bahama Breeze.
Cleveland.com reported that about 40 women were celebrating a friend’s new book and her upcoming move to Los Angeles when one of the guests complained that she was considering leaving after waiting 25 minutes for her bill.
Chante Spencer, one of the women the table, told the publication that the manager overreacted and called the police even though the woman ended up paying the tab. Spencer also claims that the police stayed for an hour making sure everyone paid their bill, which in her eyes was completely unnecessary.
“Police were standing there to make sure everyone paid, which we felt was racial profiling,” Spencer said.
The manager said that members of the group became upset waiting for their bills and caused a “disturbance” and used profanity toward her, according to the police report. Spencer pushed back on the notion that others in the group, which was mostly African-American and comprised of a doctor, a judge, educators and other professionals from the Cleveland area, had threatened to leave without paying.
“[It’s] totally not true,” she said.
She does admit that the party was initially supposed to be 25 but ballooned to 40, perhaps playing into their “poor service.” However, Rich Jeffers, Darden’s senior director of communications, told the newspaper that it was obvious they failed their guests.
“We clearly fell short of delivering great service, and we’ve invited the guests back in order to provide an exceptional Bahama Breeze experience,” Jeffers said.
For Spencer, she hopes the company launches an investigation in order to educate their staff better on racial bias.
“I am hoping that Bahama Breeze looks at this very carefully and alters policies and does some more training,” Spencer said.
“You cannot make assumptions that people are going to commit a crime based on how they look.”
Danielle Nelson, the woman the party was hosted for, told FOX 8 News that she was humiliated by the way they were treated.
“I was shocked. I had no words. I was insulted. I was embarrassed,” said Nelson, “It was very hurtful. I cried in the car. Couldn’t even make it home.”
This isn’t the first time the restaurant chain has come under fire for racial discrimination.
As Fox 8 pointed out, in 2009 the same restaurant chain settled a $1.26 million racial harassment lawsuit with 37 African-American workers. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the employees were frequently called racial slurs such as the n-word and Aunt Jemima and homeboy. They were also denied breaks during the day.