Restaurant Apologizes for Denying Black Boy Service Over Dress Code

A restaurant group in Maryland has apologized to an African American woman and her son after they were denied service at an establishment because the boy was allegedly violating its dress code—despite the fact that a white boy wearing similar clothes was permitted to dine.

Marcia Grant posted about the weekend incident at Ouzo Bay, an upscale Mediterranean restaurant in Baltimore, on Facebook on Monday.

Alongside a video of her encounter with a manager, she wrote that the restaurant would not allow her 9-year-old son Dallas to dine at the restaurant because he was in athletic wear.

Ouzo Bay would not let Dallas eat at their restaurant sighting that athletic wear was not allowed! I pointed out to them that there was a white child that also had on athletic wear just getting up...

"I pointed out to them that there was a white child that also had on athletic wear just getting up from dinning [sic] there, they still would not let my son eat there!" Grant wrote.

"I have faced racism time and time again, but it's hard AF, when you have to see your child (9yo) upset because he knows he's being treated different that a white child!!!"

Grant's post quickly went viral and has been shared on Facebook more than 1,500 times so far and has also circulated on Instagram.

It prompted an apology from Atlas Restaurant Group, the Baltimore-based hospitality group founded by restaurateur Alex Smith which operates Ouzo Bay and other fine-dining establishments in Baltimore, Houston and other cities.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the group said it was "sickened" by the incident and that the manager seen in the video has been placed on "indefinite leave."

"Today, we learned of an incredibly disturbing incident that occurred at one of our restaurants in Baltimore, Ouzo Bay," the statement said.

Grant's video "clearly shows the woman's son, an African American young person, wearing athletic shorts and an Air Jordan shirt," the statement said.

"The video also shows a Caucasian youth, dressed similarly, who was permitted to dine in the restaurant. This should never have happened, the manager seen in the video has been placed on indefinite leave."

The statement added: "We sincerely apologize to Marcia Grant, her son & everyone impacted by this painful incident. This situation does not represent who or what Atlas stands for."

Today, we learned of an incredibly disturbing incident that occurred at one of our restaurants in Baltimore, Ouzo Bay. We sincerely apologize to Marcia Grant, her son & everyone impacted by this painful incident. This situation does not represent who or what Atlas stands for. pic.twitter.com/jsofGRLVw1

— Atlas Restaurant Group (@AtlasBaltimore) June 23, 2020

Dress codes at Atlas restaurants are "the result of ongoing input from customers, in no way are they intended to be discriminatory," the statement added. It went on to say that the incident involving Grant and her son "clearly serves as a moment we will learn from and create change."

After reviewing the video and interviewing employees, the company said it has immediately revised its dress code policy so children aged 12 and under, who are accompanied by an adult, will not be subjected to a dress code at any Atlas restaurant.

All Atlas employees will continue to receive diversity and inclusion training, the statement added.

"We know we failed in this instance and sincerely hope to be afforded the opportunity to meet with the Marcia Grant and her son, who both deserved better."

The incident occurred after Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young eased coronavirus restrictions in the city and announced that bars and restaurants could begin reopening at 50 percent capacity from 5 p.m. on Friday.

It also comes amid heightened awareness on matters of race due to ongoing nationwide protests against racism and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis police custody a month ago.

Grant and Atlas Restaurant Group have been contacted for additional comment.

Baltimore
Protesters march as part of a Juneteenth Celebration on June 19, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. J. Countess/Getty Images