A Denny’s in Lake City, Florida is in apology mode today after it turned away a group of black customers, claiming their party was too large.
Elijah Henderson Jr. told News4Jax that he visited the restaurant with a group of about 25 members from his church, and was immediately told by an employee that they were unable to accommodate them.
Henderson said he saw plenty of other groups in the restaurant, and that he thought the restaurant’s refusal to seat his party was due to racial discrimination.
“Is it the color of my skin? That’s where I left it at. Is that a problem? Because everybody else was eating and drinking, and she was, like, ‘I am not going to be able to accommodate you all,’” he told the station.
Henderson said that the employee claimed there was only one cashier and one cook working at the time.
“There was another family that came in right after me, she was, like, ‘You guys go ahead and have a seat. I will be with you momentarily,’” he said.
“They are wrong for how they treated us,” he added. “Point blank, I don’t care what you look like, or where you come from, I just want equality.”
The employee no longer works at the Denny’s, according to News4Jax.
Denny’s corporate office said in a statement that the incident was “unacceptable.”
“We were shocked by the unacceptable experience our guests received recently at our Lake City, Florida, location, and sincerely apologize,” the statement said. “We simply do not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our restaurants.”
Henderson also said that Denny’s chief operating officer called him to personally apologize.
“He was like, ‘Well, I work with a diversity department.’ I was like, ‘Well, you guys have to do a little more work because it’s not working,’” Henderson said. “’What you’re doing may be working at corporate, but when it drizzles down and comes to the franchisees, it is not working.’”