A black couple accused a sushi restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, of unfairly assaulting it for violations of the dress code when they tried to dine at the restaurant last week.
The owner of the restaurant said the incident was not racially motivated and told Tekk.tv he would take responsibility for the escalation of the situation after learning more about the extenuating circumstances.
In a video of the incident, which was circulated online, the male customer in white sneakers can be seen in the Umi restaurant in the Buckhead district. At one point in the minute-long video posted on Twitter, you can hear him shouting the call to leave “pure racism”.
The sneakers are identified on Umi’s website as a violation of the restaurant’s dress code, as is wearing baseball caps, sportswear and sports jerseys. Men are also prohibited from wearing shorts, flip-flops and tank tops in the restaurant. Above the list of forbidden clothes and shoes on the restaurant’s website in red capital letters is the words “Dress code strictly enforced”.
The owner of Umi, Farshid Arshid, told Tekk.tv that the restaurant also draws customers’ attention to its dress code at Open Table, the online reservation system that, he said, was used by customers in the incident. Customers are also reminded of the dress code when employees call them to confirm their reservations, Arshid said.
The customer’s wife told WAGA-TV that her problem with the restaurant’s decision to ask her to leave was not about the dress code – it was about another customer sitting inside while wearing their own sneakers.
“How crazy is that,” the man in the video told one of the restaurant employees. “She’s wearing Adidas shoes. Are you trying to tell me those are good?” The video zooms in on the feet of a white woman who seems to be wearing silver sneakers.
You hear the man say that he has been a customer of Umi’s before, a statement his wife repeats to WAGA-TV. According to the couple, the man has worn sneakers in the restaurant before, but he has never been denied service.
As the guests are led to the door, the man is heard saying that he preferred to discuss the matter inside, adding: “You brought this on yourself”.
“This is pure racism,” said the man. “She’s after Adidas.”
Arshid told Tekk.tv that he would take responsibility for the “business interruption” and said he had called the customers shortly after the events of October 23 to apologize.
“We failed absolutely,” Arshid said. “In a climate where everything is so tense and there is so much negativity, we should be better than that.
Arshid told Tekk.tv that he had not noticed at first that another customer of the restaurant was wearing sneakers when the couple was asked to leave the restaurant. Had he recognized this element of the situation at the time, he would have handled the situation differently, Arshid said.
Arshid said that he had invited the guests to return, even though they told him they were reluctant to do so. He told Tekk.tv that during his conversation with them he said he “felt as if I had failed as a human being. Arshid added that he considered the incident a personal failure and wanted to take a step back to avoid similar confrontations in the future.
“We made a mistake,” he said. “I made a mistake that day, and I have to face it”..