Employees at a Buffalo Wild Wings in the greater Chicago area are out of a job this week after allegedly asking a Black family to move in order to appease a white customer.
Justin Vahl said the incident occurred as he and his family were celebrating a birthday at the popular sports bar in suburban Naperville, Illinois, late last month, according to The Naperville Sun. Vahl was among a party of 18, including 12 youngsters, who were asked by a manager to change their table.
He said the host, who’s African-American, asked “what race are you?” while staffers got the party’s table ready. Shocked by the question, Vahl demanded to know why it mattered. That’s when the worker told him that one of their regular patrons “didn’t want Black people sitting next to him” and suggested they move seats.
Vahl objected to the idea, saying “I’m not going to let a customer dictate where we sit,” he told the newspaper.
After their group was seated, he said a manager came over and asked that they switch seats. Angry, Vahl and his family decided to take their business elsewhere. The Montgomery man, who identifies as multiracial, said what was most upsetting is that his children, aged 5 and 9, were there to witness it all.
“Still trying to wrap my head around the disgusting treatment we received” at the restaurant, Vahl tweeted later about the incident.
His wife, Mary, also detailed the incident on Facebook, saying that BWW staffers at one point claimed the group’s table had actually been reserved for another large party, an excuse they found hard to believe.
PSA: I usually don’t post these types of things but we think people need to be aware of the situation.Last night…
“In 2019, this type of behavior should not be accepted because of certain views,” she wrote in the now-viral post, adding: “If you don’t want to sit next to certain people in a public restaurant, you should probably eat dinner in the comfort of your own home.”
Her post also included a photo of the “racist” man who took issue with being seated next to them.
A spokesperson for Buffalo Wild Wings addressed the incident, saying the restaurant takes the incident “very seriously” and after a thorough review, had fired the employees — service manager and a shift manager — involved.
“Buffalo Wild Wings values an inclusive environment and has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” company spokesperson Claire Kudlata said in a statement.
Kudlata also said the company “offered our deepest apologies for any unacceptable behavior,” however, Vahl and his wife said Buffalo Wild Wings has lost their business indefinitely.
The casual dining chain was sued earlier this year after the managers at a Kansas store allegedly made derogatory remarks about Black customers and even allowed employees to refuse them service because they don’t tip well.