Olive Garden Manager Who Allegedly Let White Diner Refuse Service From Black Staff Is Fired

The Italian restaurant chain Olive Garden has fired one of its outlet's manager for allegedly complying with a customer's request not to be served by black staff members.

Last Saturday, a female customer at its restaurant in Evansville, Indiana, asked for some hot water, and then took exception to the staff serving her.

Amira Donahue, who was the hostess on duty, told ABC affiliate WEHT that the customer "asked for a server who wasn't black."

"The manager complied and I do agree that was a bad decision at the moment but there was a better way that could have been handled," she said.

Olive Garden
An Olive Garden restaurant is shown in Times Square in New York in this illustrative image. The Italian chain is investigating claims of a racist incident involving one of its staff members at a store in Evansville, Indiana. Richard B. Levine

Donahue said that the disgruntled customer then made comments about her to a co-worker, "saying that I'm not family-friendly."

"(She asked) 'Am I even black? Am I from here? Am I from America? Just like offhand comments like that and referring me to the 'other one,'" she added.

"I would never expect it to be so apparent in public like it's 2020, not 1920 and I feel like it should take more than social media to get a problem like this out there."

Olive Garden said that it was investigating the incident. In a statement to Newsweek, the company said: "We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and the manager involved no longer works for our company."

News of the alleged incident last Saturday night sparked comments on social media, with several posts on Facebook backing up the staff members' accounts.

David Weissmann tweeted: "Hey @olivegarden, you shouldn't comply to racism. This person should have been escorted out of the restaurant it's 2020, not the 1960s."

Alex Bowles tweeted: "I ate at Olive Garden last night and it looks like that'll be the last time. I have ZERO tolerance for racism or people in charge allowing it."

David Hindberg tweeted: "Since it appears that Olive Garden have already fired the manager in question...I doubt it is the policy of the company, to comply to racism. And, with that, I'd wager that the many employees would've acted differently, but are now judged as one."

The Evansville NAACP said it had not received a formal complaint but would investigate the claims. Its president Gerald Arnold told the Courier and Press: "I'm 76 years old so I've experienced a lot of racial biases. Today, 2020, it grabs you that... if in fact this is true, we're still having to deal with those kinds of issues."

This story has been updated to include the statement Olive Garden made to Newsweek.