WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - Jerrick Jefferson says he and his wife got a plateful of disrespect while celebrating their anniversary. It all went down at J. Alexander's in West Bloomfield Thursday as they told a manager about the bad service they were receiving.
"A gentleman from the bar area, a Chaldean gentleman, emerged from his seat and called us the n-word. several times. and started throwing food at us," said Jefferson. "The manager basically said, 'I'm walking away, those were her exact words: 'I'm walking away.' She went up to talk to another manager, I approached both of them, and I said, 'Is there any reason why black people in this restaurant can't get any respect?'"
Jefferson says another black customer approached the managers and told them one of the servers threw a drink after refusing to seat her at the bar until the rest of her party showed up. Then came the man shouting racial slurs.
"And that's why we were all shocked," said Cheryl Sutton, a witness. "In fact I talked with my girlfriend today and said, 'Can you imagine we were sitting there that close dining with people who really feel that way about us?'"
Sutton was one of many that watched the drama unfold.
"I think most folks in the restaurant there were just appalled with the actions of not only the one gentleman that threw the food, but the restaurant staff," she said.
A spokesman for J. Alexander's says the restaurant extends its apologies to customers who saw witnessed the incident and that it does not tolerate inappropriate behavior from either guests or employees.
Even so, Jefferson says staffers did just that, as West Bloomfield police sought to identify the man hurling food and slurs.
"The employees of the restaurant hid the gentleman in the restaurant," Jefferson said. "When the police went in there and when the police turned their back, the camera will show people ushering this guy out of the restaurant."
Jefferson says as bad as the night was, there was a bright spot - the response from the West Bloomfield police and the diverse group of customers who stood up for him and his wife.
"What I saw last night is what really to me makes America great," he said. "White people came out to our defense. And I'm talking about more than nine or 10. They gathered around the police car and spoke on our behalf and some of them gave statements to the police."
Police are investigating and said there could potentially be charges for throwing food. J. Alexander's says its' employees did nothing that was alleged and is calling what happened an unfortunate incident between guests.
Jefferson says African-American guests should consider dining elsewhere.