A member of Delta Sigma Theta—a black sorority—is accusing a Bahama Breeze restaurant in Orange Village, Ohio, of racial profiling after the manager called police on Tuesday toward the end of a sorority gathering.
According to Cleveland.com, Chante Spencer was among some 40 people at the restaurant who were celebrating a sorority sister’s book deal and her decision to move to the West Coast. She noted that the group had made a reservation for 25 people for the festivities, but then about a dozen more people showed up, which, she noted, possibly contributed to poor service. The incident turned sour, however, after one of the women celebrating with the sorority (but who was not a member herself) apparently said that she was going to leave after waiting for about 25 minutes for her bill.
Spencer said that the police were called, even though the woman ended up waiting and paying, because the manager wanted officers to wait as other members of the large party—who were spread out at multiple tables—paid their bills.
“Police were standing there to make sure everyone paid, which we felt was racial profiling,” Spencer, who emphasized that she was not speaking for the sorority, told the news site.
According to a police report of the incident, the restaurant manager claimed that some members of the sorority had threatened to leave without paying, at which point the manager requested police presence until all the bills were settled.
The manager claimed that some members of the group became upset by the wait for their bills and caused a “disturbance,” using profanity toward her.
The police report notes that all of the bills were paid, adding that one member of the group had told police that she would make sure that all the bills were accounted for. No further action was taken by the police, although they stayed at the restaurant for an hour.
Meanwhile, Spencer insisted that the allegations that people were threatening to leave without paying are “totally not true,” adding that members of the group became upset by what they saw as racial profiling.
“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.”
Rich Jeffers, senior director of Darden Restaurants, which owns Bahama Breeze, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, told the news site in a statement that the restaurant “fell short” in delivering great service: “We clearly fell short of delivering great service, and we’ve invited the guests back in order to provide an exceptional Bahama Breeze experience.”