A New York City actor and comedian says he believes he was targeted based on his race after he was kicked out of a Buffalo, N.Y., restaurant because he was wearing a hoodie.
Chris Jarell, 27, said that security and a manager from Bada Bing booted him out of the establishment on June 22 while he was dressed in a black hoodie, WMAR-TV reports.
The actor was in Buffalo filming an independent movie and had just left the hotel gym and walked to the restaurant to pick up dinner to take to his hotel room. As he was waiting, he decided to grab a drink, and from there, he says, the situation fell apart.
“Security guard comes in with a problem, like, ‘Hey man, you said you wasn’t going to sit down,’” Jarell recalled.
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Jarell said he explained that he was just waiting for his food (as a lot of us tend to do), but the security guard asked him to leave and then called the manager.
While all of this was happening, the actor says, he noticed that there was a white man basically dressed the same as he was who also had on flip-flops (Jarell was wearing sneakers). No one bothered that customer.
Jarell took a picture and shared it on social media.
Jarell noted in his post that when he complained, the manager cursed at him.
“I told the manager if I put this on social media, it’s not a good look, man. You’re treating somebody who’s coming in town for the first time like they’ve done something wrong. He was like, ‘Eff you and your social media. Don’t come back here. I don’t care who you are,’” Jarell said.
The restaurant, now faced with scrutiny, tried to explain the situation away, claiming that customers are not allowed to enter the business wearing hoodies or flip-flops after 7 p.m. The white man, management said, had already been in the restaurant before then, whereas Jarell entered after 7 p.m.
Moreover, in a statement on Twitter, the restaurant seemed to lay some of the blame at Jarell’s feet, saying, “The way that this situation was handled was inappropriate for both him and us.”
The statement continued:
There are two sides to the story but our employees could have used better judgement. Our social media department was asked to stay silent as we investigated the situation and we are sorry we have ignored the bombardment of accusations and ugly fallacies of racism which grew uglier the longer we did not make a statement. We could not possibly provide any answers to this situation until we had all of the facts. We still are gathering facts and we will take necessary actions internally. We are hoping to reach out to the gentleman today(if he reads this he is welcome to call us.)
Our family business was built on hearing [sic] every customer awesome. Employees make mistakes, managers make mistakes and again we will deal with HR issues privately. We wish to own up to the miscue. Our door policy on the weekends is extremely strict at Bada Bing, as Chippewa St. is an active street that has had documented fist fights and all-out brawls. Our dress code is a selection of keeping people in our establishment safe. That is not a “buzzword” for keeping Bada Bing white. The fact that a white person was wearing a hoodie in the restaurant (at a table) was both a reflection of the shift change, as well there is a part of the story missing, this was not selective enforcement, and we are sorry that was not explained to the gentlemen. As a sports bar, we understand that people are wearing their hoodies for FIFA, NFL, NIKE, NBA, NHL etc. In that sense, we are guilty of breaking from the policy for big games or local team games on Sunday afternoons in the Fall or a night game with the Sabres as we are a popular pre-game destination. We do not determine dress code based on skin color. Racism is horrible. We detest it. Everyone is welcome at the BING. ￼
The restaurant later deleted that statement and posted a new one:
The Ownership of Bada Bing has been apprised of the allegations made against one of our employees and we have begun a full investigation into the facts surrounding the incident. We take these allegations very seriously and if proven, we will take all steps necessary to deal with the issue. We value all of our customers and we want the community to know, that we in no way condone racial or ethnic bias of any kind.