The Pizza Inn restaurant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina refused to accept a Black customer’s coupon but later accepted the card from the man’s white roommate without hesitation.
Link Alexander claimed he stopped at the restaurant and tried to use the coupon for a free buffet on Monday (Apr. 23), but once the employee called the assistant manager to the front, the offer was rejected.
“He looks at the card. He looks at me. He was like, ‘So where did you get the card from?'”, Alexander told WRAL, adding that the coupon was given to him by his supervisor.
“Present this card at any participating Pizza Inn location” the coupon read and included a signature by the “Presented by” line.
“It has to be signed by my manager, or my [district manager], and this is neither one of their signatures,” Alexander said, recalling what the assistant manager told him.
Alexander walked out of Pizza Inn without disruption, but his roommate Rex Casey went back to the buffet hours later with the same card and had no issue.
Casey explained that he walked into the same restaurant with the same coupon and the server sat him at the table. The roommate asked to speak to the same assistant manager and asked if they were accepting the offer while slightly covering the signature.
“He was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s not problem, etc., etc., and while he was agreeing to it, I took my hand off the coupon. As soon as he saw it, he recognized it,” Casey said to the news outlet.
“He immediately jumped into the same thing he told Link. ‘The issue is I can’t really read the signature. I can’t tell whose signature that is. I can’t make it out. I don’t think the owners would allow me to accept it,'” the white roommate stated.
After Casey posted the video of the incident on social media, the company soon released a statement.
“This particular restaurant did not recognize the coupon that was presented and did not accept it from either guest. Our employees were exercising caution, as customers have attempted to use fraudulent cards in the past,” Pizza Inn stated.
However, Casey said opposite and claimed he had no problem being invited to sit down and dine in at the establishment.
Alexander said that if the restaurant checks coupons “then it needs to be fair across the board.” He also expressed to the franchisee of the Hunter Hill location, Steve Stancil, on Facebook, that he can’t see himself “patronizing or recommending” the buffet until a different set of protocols are implemented and the entire staff undergoes diversity training.
“We try to make our procedures clear on coupons but it does not always work… I take full responsibility in that all our managers should be on the same page and obviously they were not,” Stancil wrote on Facebook and offered the customer a free meal. “I believe if you look at our staff … you would agree there is nothing racist about us.”