WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - After allegations of racism by black customers, J. Alexander's West Bloomfield is responding with the results of an internal investigation.
A statement by the restaurant says the allegations by customer Liah Gant - who said that she was discriminated against by employees when she refused to give her seat for a white man - are false.
Using surveillance video, a statement from restaurant management said it "clearly showed that the female guest making the charge of discrimination was not asked to give up her seat for white guests."
No surveillance video has been provided to FOX 2 by J. Alexander's currently.
Gant claimed that she was sitting at the bar with a drink in front of her when the bartender gestured to two white men who were looking for a place to sit. Gant said she had an open seat next to her for a friend who was in the restaurant but not sitting down.
She said the bartender told the two white men to take their seats. When she refused, she said the bartender took the drink away from her, poured it in the sink, and told Gant she wouldn't serve her. Gant said the bartender was told not to serve her - but to serve everyone else at the bar.
The restaurant says: "The female guest was trying to save a seat for a friend who had not yet arrived, and she was informed that seats in the pub area could not be saved. She was offered a table for herself and her party in the main dining area, but declined, insisting that she stay in the pub area.
"Surveillance video clearly shows this female guest remains in her seat in the pub area for more than an hour enjoying beverages and dining with two acquaintances.
"Further exacerbating the incident was the misbehavior of a male guest, who approached our manager and began shouting in a disruptive manner, uttering profanity and insults to members of staff.
"As he and his family were leaving the restaurant, surveillance video shows that another patron - not a restaurant employee - threw a container of food from a take-out order at the male guest and his party."
In Gant's side of the story, she said that when a black customer tried to stand up for her and her friend, a white customer began yelling at him and then threw food at them. West Bloomfield police were called but claims were made that the management protected the white customer, helping him leave through the back.
But J. Alexander's responds: "According to surveillance video, the patron who threw the container of food later left the restaurant through the front door after employees attempted to separate the two parties and defuse the altercation to the best of their ability.
"The West Bloomfield police were called and arrived at the restaurant as guests were leaving. The police have the contact information of the individual responsible for throwing food. We have turned over the surveillance video to the police department and await a report on their investigation and their determination as to whether any formal charges related to this behavior are warranted.
"The misrepresentation of facts in this incident are obvious. Our investigation, supported by surveillance video, points to the undeniable truth:
- J. Alexander’s did not engage in any discrimination in this matter.
- J. Alexander’s emphatically states that no guest was denied service.
- J. Alexander’s strongly states that no guest was racially profiled.
- None of our employees used profanity or made racial remarks during the incident on June 20.
"J. Alexander’s Restaurant has consistently adhered to a set of non-discriminatory standards that are as comprehensive as any in our industry. We are proud of our track record of non-discrimination during the 21 years we have been a member of the community and look forward to continuing to serve our guests with outstanding food and service."
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