The manager of an IHOP in Auburn, Maine, is making it clear that no one should or will ever have to pay up front for a meal at the establishment after an incident of racial profiling over the weekend.
“And we’re trying to let everybody know that we’re not racist,” Melvin Escobar, the manager, told the Bangor Daily News. “We treat everybody the same, and basically we’re here to serve you and give you the best experience ever.”
Escobar acknowledged that he suspended a server for a week without pay after he discovered that she had asked a group of black teens to pay for their meals up front.
The incident was brought to light in a post by Avery Gagne, who was seated with his parents when he witnessed what was happening.
“We paid and sat there for a few minutes and I heard an employee tell the table that they were going to need to pay upfront and that it was ‘a new generation thing.’ I kept thinking to myself that I have been to many resturaunts (sic) with my teenage friends and have never had to pay upfront? I called over the [...] group and asked them if they were seriously being asked to pay upfront and they said yes,” Gagne wrote in his post. “So my father, mother and I stood up and began to question why this was happening. I myself was already quite worked up as I knew exactly why this was happening. The woman who requested they pay upfront came over and began to tell us how it was what management has asked her to do as they have had walk outs etc. She then looked at my parents and I and said “it’s not because of their color.”
There is a saying, “A guilty conscience needs no accuser,” and that’s pretty much all I’m going to say about the server, who immediately insisted that it wasn’t a racial issue.
According to Gagne, the worst part was that one of the teens told him and his parents that it was OK.
Gagne also says he is not convinced that the situation is being taken seriously, even given the actions Escobar has taken so far.
“In my heart of hearts, I just wish and I hope that that is true, and they understand what’s happening here and how horrible it is,” he says. “To me, it really, honestly felt like a lot of damage control.”
IHOP President Darren Rebelez issued a statement to the Daily News following the story:
IHOP and our franchisees have zero tolerance for actions that are or allude to discrimination of any type. The franchisee of this location is working to contact the affected guests directly to apologize for this incident and are taking appropriate actions in line with their HR policies. For 60 years, IHOP and our franchisees have strived to create a warm and hospitable dining experience for all guests, and this isolated incident is not reflective of that ongoing commitment