A South Carolina man and several of his friends say they were refused service at a Wild Wing Cafe in Charleston last month and asked to leave. The reason: Michael Brown and his group of 24 friends and family members are African-American, and another customer – a white woman – complained that she felt threatened by the group.
That’s according to Brown, who was celebrating his cousin’s last day in Charleston with a night out at the Wild Wing Cafe. Brown took his beef to social media, and the story went viral.
The apparent race-based snub came after Brown and his group waited for a table for about two hours.
Discriminated: Michael Brown (center) and his family were denied service at a South Carolina restaurant after a white woman claimed she felt threatened
Ignored: Brown says the restaurant’s corporate office ignored his multiple calls to tell them about the incident
‘She said there’s a situation where one of our customers feels threatened by your party, so she asked us not to seat you in our section, which totally alarmed all of us because we’re sitting there peaceably for two hours,’ Brown explained to WCSC. ‘Obviously, if we were causing any conflict, we would have been ejected out of the place hours before.’
As Brown and the shift manager were talking, a member of his party began videotaping the conversation, which is when the manager became upset and refused to seat the group.
‘I asked her I want to be clear with you,’ Brown told the station. ‘I said so you’re telling me I have to leave. She said I have a right to deny you service. I said so you’re asking me to leave because you’re upset because he was recording you, after we’ve waited for two hours, and after you’ve already pretty much discriminated on us, and she answered yes.’
Social Media: After Brown posted this on the restaurant’s Facebook page, he finally got a call from the corporate office
Not satisfied: Brown says the restaurant’s offer of a free meal isn’t enough
Brown called the restaurant’s corporate headquarters repeatedly to explain what had happened to the manager’s superiors. But nobody ever called him back – so he turned to Facebook.
‘I will never go to Wild wings cafe in N. Chs again! We (Party of 25 family and friends) waited 2hrs, patiently and were refused service because another customer (White) felt threatened by us. This type of racial discrimination is unacceptable and we have to put a STOP TO IT. The manager looked me dead in the face and said she was refusing us service because she had a right to and simply she felt like it. DO NOT SUPPORT THIS ESTABLISHMENT… PLEASE SHARE THIS POST… We need your help,’ he posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
After Brown’s post started getting a bit of attention, the restaurant finally acknowledged Brown’s complaint.
‘We got alerted through social media, so we always encourage our customers to respond to us or to comment on our social media pages,’ Debra Stokes, the chief marketing officer for Wild Wing Cafe, told the station.
After the post, representatives for Wild Wing Cafe said they immediately responded and spoke to Brown.
‘We had a conversation,’ said Stokes. ‘It was a really good conversation. He and many of his family and friends were there about a month ago, and they are regular customers of ours. So, they were having a going away party, and they just didn’t receive the experience that they have come to know and love.’
At no point did Stokes deny that Brown’s story was true.
The restaurant offered Brown and his family a free meal for the entire group. But Brown isn’t completely satisfied.
‘We weren’t coming there for a free meal. When we came there that night, we were coming to patronize the business. This is not a situation where you can just give us a free meal and everything is ok because it’s deeper than that,’ he said.
As of Sunday night, Brown’s post was shared on Facebook nearly 3,000 times.