An Atlanta restaurant owner has apologized after a Black couple who made dinner reservations was denied service over a pair of sneakers.
Kaylan and Steve Colbert made a reservation for a birthday dinner at the Umi Sushi Restaurant in Buckhead Friday, Oct. 23, but when they arrived, they were denied service by staff members for a dress code violation. Steve Colbert was wearing sneakers.
Footage filmed and posted to social media by Kaylan Colbert, who is an attorney, has been viewed more than 90,000 times.
In the video, Steve Colbert, who is wearing a pair of white Nike Air Force 1s, can be seen speaking with a staff member.
“She has on Adidas sneakers,” he said, in reference to a white woman wearing tennis shoes in the restaurant. “You’re telling me those are good?”
“This is something you brought on yourself” Steve said, after the staff member suggested they talk outside. “This is pure racism.”
Steve Colbert continued to point out that another patron was wearing Adidas, asking the staff member to explain the difference between the two athleticwear brands, before his wife said they would wait for police to arrive.
“We’re getting kicked out because he has on tennis shoes, maybe you can take our 5:15 [reservation]” Kaylan Colbert told another customer. “We’re leaving.”
A staff member continued to ask her husband to come outside to finish the conversation.
“I get where you’re coming from, but please, we’re all minorities here,” the staff member told Steve Colbert outside of the restaurant. When he pointed out the woman in Adidas shoes again, the staff member said he “didn’t see her shoes.”
The owner, Farshid Arshid, who is Iranian, joined the encounter as he was leaving the restaurant and said that neither Adidas nor Nikes were allowed in the restaurant. When Steve pointed out that a white woman in the restaurant was wearing Adidas, Arshid said he would not argue.
“There’s no Air Force 1s, done!” he said, walking away.
“Wow,” Kaylan Colbert said. “You’re basically saying he’s a n-gger at the end of the day.”
When Arshid began to confront her about her comment, the exchange between Steve Colbert and the owner became heated.
“Get the cops,” someone repeated, as staff members intervened. Steve Colbert told Arshid not to “go at” his wife.
Arshid told Steve Colbert he would “go to jail tonight,” at one point.
“You’re the owner of Umi and you’re allowing this to happen at your establishment? I’m glad, because a lot of Black people come here and I think you know that” Kaylan Colbert said.
“Yeah,” Arshid said. When Kaylan Colbert said the couple had spent thousands of dollars at Umi’s the owner responded, “well you can’t anymore.”
“We don’t want to come to any of your restaurants,” Kaylan Colbert said.
He told USA Today the situation could have been handled better, but he said it was an “operational, not racial” shortcoming.
“We absolutely mishandled it,” Arshid said. “I’m ashamed of that … we should’ve managed the situation much better.” The dress code is communicated when reservations are made, and is also displayed on the wall in the restaurant. Arshid said he doesn’t know what kind of shoes the woman inside was wearing.
He said he called the Colberts 30 minutes after the incident, inviting them back to the restaurant, but Colbert said she has not accepted his apology.
Some have called for people to boycott the restaurant over the incident, claiming the dress code policy is used to discriminate.