NBA Legend Dominique Wilkins Gets Apology After Restaurant Turned Him Away

Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins has received an apology after he claimed he was turned away from an upscale restaurant due to his race.

Wilkins said that staff at Le Bilboquet Atlanta, a French bistro in the Buckhead district, had turned him away in a tweet that quickly went viral over the weekend.

"In my many years in the world, I've eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world, but never have I felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin, until today in #atlanta In @LeBilboquetAtl #turnedawaybecauseimblack," he wrote on Saturday.

In my many years in the world, I’ve eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world, but never have I felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin, until today in #atlanta In @LeBilboquetAtl #turnedawaybecauseimblack pic.twitter.com/vh7zuyxH0K

— Dominique Wilkins 🏀 (@DWilkins21) May 22, 2021

That’s exactly what happened. I would have been fine if they said just no tables. But they looked me up and down before that and then said that and to add insult, talked about how my clothes were not appropriate when I was wearing designer casual pants and a shirt

— Dominique Wilkins 🏀 (@DWilkins21) May 23, 2021

In another tweet, Wilkins said staff initially told him that the restaurant had no tables, then said he wasn't "dressed fashionably enough."

"When I first got there, they said no tables, then they said I was not dressed fashionably enough," he wrote. "I guess if there were no tables, then why the follow up comment?"

A restaurant spokesperson told Newsweek on Monday that "in no way was Mr. Wilkins turned away because of his race." She added: "It was purely a dress code issue that we are in the process of re-evaluating."

A statement the restaurant sent the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday night focused on its dress code.

"We, at Le Bilboquet, do our best to accommodate all of our guests. However, we have received consistent complaints from our patrons regarding other guest's wardrobe choices," the statement said.

"As a result, to protect our restaurant's culture, we installed a minimum standard in our 'business casual' attire dress code which includes jeans and sneakers but prohibits baseball caps and athletic clothing including sweat pants and tops. Though the definition of 'casual' is ever evolving, we strive to maintain our policy requirements daily but it isn't a perfect system."

Dominque Wilkins attends the 2017 NBA Awards
Dominque Wilkins attends the 2017 NBA Awards at Basketball City - Pier 36 - South Street on June 26, 2017 in New York City. Paul Zimmerman/WireImage

In response to a tweet that alleged the restaurant "enforce the dress code inconsistently which some deem racist," Wilkins wrote: "That's exactly what happened."

He continued: "I would have been fine if they said just no tables. But they looked me up and down before that and then said that and to add insult, talked about how my clothes were not appropriate when I was wearing designer casual pants and a shirt."

On Sunday, the restaurant issued a new statement on its Instagram page apologizing to Wilkins.

"We want to apologize to Mr. Wilkins for his experience at our restaurant and also for any confusion our dress code may have caused," the statement said.

"We in no way intended for him to feel unwanted, and welcome an open dialogue with him. Our upscale dining experience and our brand's culture is made up of multiple elements, which include our music, our food and our patrons' attire. We continue to strive to manifest our dining experience in a way that is exciting and most importantly, inclusive."

Dress codes at upscale restaurants have come under scrutiny over disparate treatment to similarly dressed Black and white patrons before.

Last year, a restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland, apologized after a Black woman shared a video showing she and her son were denied service because the boy was allegedly violating the establishment's dress code, while a similarly dressed white boy was permitted to dine.

Wilkins spent the majority of his NBA career with the Hawks and is considered one of the greatest dunkers in NBA history. Nicknamed "The Human Highlight Film," he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He is currently the Hawks' Vice President of Basketball and a special adviser to the CEO.

Update 5/24 11 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional comment from a spokesperson for Le Bilboquet Atlanta.