A fb post regarding a friend’s recent experience at a local restaurant has me interested in the general public’s thoughts on this topic. The quick summary: 6 African American women are having a business meeting and dining at an upper scale establishment in Atlanta. One of the co-owners asks the DJ to ask the ladies to take their meeting elsewhere stating that they didn’t want their establishment to become a “black spot”. DJ, Ladies, & community offended. Full text of the post is below.
As an entertainment option for social venues, my band and I have had the opportunity to have a lot of discussion with bar/restaurant owners about the challenges of maintaining a diverse audience in Atlanta and the tendency for patrons to slide to the extreme one way or another. It seems that particularly w/African American patrons, there is a percentage threshold that if exceeded, becomes a deterrent to white patrons and overall diversity.
So in a city where the racial divide still presents comfort challenges for blacks & whites trying to share public venues socially I ask the questions:
1) Assuming the owner’s is being honest about their concern, should this be classed as discrimination and if so what should be done about it, if anything?
2) Is there anything wrong with trying to execute on your own vision of a social/dining establishment even if that vision includes a particular racial mix? (Again, assuming the establishment was aiming for diversity not complete exclusion)
3) What will it take (aside from time) for Atlanta to become more socially integrated & diverse? The recent closing of one of the top mid-size live music venues in Atlanta (Sugarhill) is just one sign that we have work to do. Sugarhill was/is located in Underground Atlanta, a locale that should be a killer opportunity for a booming nightlife scene for tourists. It’s not and many believe its inability to maintain a diverse (racially & otherwise) patron base is a part of the problem.
What are your thoughts?
P.S. Any site with my name on it places honesty and the ability to accept differing opinions above all else. Pls speak freely and be respectful of others.
Original FB post:
Ladies and gentlemen, the following ‘paraphrased’ conversation took place between a friend of mine and the Co-owner of a restaurant called xxxx.
*Law and Order music*
The setting: XXX Restaurant – Downtown Atlanta
The Players: DJ, 6 African American Ladies women ranging from 28-33, and Co-owner of xxxx restaurant. The women are there for a meeting, drinks and dinner.
Ladies: “Let’s go ahead and grab a bite to eat since we’re already here for the meeting.”
DJ: “Yeah, the food is pretty good.”
Ladies: *Looking through menu, talking…*
Co-owner: Hey [DJ] would you ask those girls to take their meeting somewhere else.
DJ: Why? They’re just having a meeting.
Owner: Well, you know, we don’t want ‘that type’ of crowd.
DJ: What type of crowd?
Owner: You know, THAT – type of crowd.
DJ: What do you mean by ‘that’ type of crowd?
Owner: I’m just saying I don’t want this restaurant to be like – a ‘black spot’ yanno?
DJ: Packs up equipment, leaves.
*outro – Law and Order music*
Now – I have nothing personally against this restaurant. The food and vibe was actually pretty good the three times I went.
The problem? The owner made this comment about a group of people who were patronizing his establishment. Spending their money in his business. The women were not loud, drunk, or belligerent. However he wanted them out because he didn’t want his restaurant to be a ‘black spot’.
As for me, I will not patronize this restaurant and I hope you’ll follow suit and tell all your friends who are ‘that type’ that xxx doesn’t want to be a ‘black spot.’
The owner maintains that he was misunderstood. I think he meant to say – he wants a diverse crowd in his restaurant, but it came out way, way wrong.
You can find out what he meant by his comments by emailing him here and simply asking him any questions you have…(removed reference to establishment) . Please be polite and respectful in your correnspondence. ‘Our type’ of people know how to do that yanno?
Also, let him know that we’ll make sure ‘xxxx’ doesn’t become a ‘black spot’.
Oh and don’t just stop here. Update your Facebook statuses, MySpace and Twitter accounts to let your friends know that if they’re, you know, ‘our type’ that they’re not particularly welcome in xxxx.