Twenty five black sorority members filed a lawsuit against the Bahama Breeze chain Monday, claiming that they were treated poorly because of the color of their skin.
On June 19, the sorority members went to Bahama Breeze to celebrate one of the member’s move to Arizona and book deal. They made a reservation, but allegedly weren’t seated for a while. The group decided to seat themselves in a private area. Devein Jenkins, one of the managers at the restaurant, told the group that they can’t leave the room for anything.
The restaurant staff weren’t attentive to the group’s needs and gave them slow service. Shunnah Antoine, one of the diners, eventually asked for her bill because she had to go to work. Jenkins told her that she couldn’t receive her bill until the entire party got their food. A server came by with Antoine’s bill shortly after and she left after paying.
Later on in the night, Francis Skupnik, another manager, contacted the police and told them that the diners threatened to leave the restaurant without paying their bill. Skupnik said the diners became upset and uttered profanities toward her. She told the police to stay at the restaurant until all the diners paid their bills.
According to the lawsuit, Jenkins and police stood at door and demanded to see their receipts before they could leave the restaurant.
“No reasonable person could observe a group of college-educated, professional people like … (the) party and assume they were going to skip out on the check,” the lawsuit says.
Colleen Williams, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said that the only problem she had on June 19 was being a person of color.
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, who served as a national president of the sorority from 1996 to 2000 said that the incident at the restaurant was a “a chilling reminder that no African American is exempt from the impact of racial profiling when a group of professional women, known for their service and advocacy are victims.”
Rich Jeffers, a spokesman for Darden, the restaurant group that owns Bahama Breeze, said that everyone is welcome at their restaurants and that they strive to provide an exceptional experience for all their guests.
“The managers involved no longer works for us because they mistreated a guest, which is inconsistent with our values,” he added.