The aesthetic at the Bahama Breeze Caribbean Restaurant is a chain restaurant’s idea of the Caribbean Lifestyle, promising coconut-scented “island time” for people who might feel overwhelmed by Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. In addition to Conch Fritters and Calypso Shrimp Linguine, one location has also been accused of serving Casual Racism.
Chante Spencer told Cleveland.com that a group of Delta Sigma Theta members—a historically black sorority—had a reservation at the Bahama Breeze in Cleveland, Ohio to celebrate one woman’s book deal and upcoming move to the West Coast. The sorority had made a reservation for 25 people, but around 40 arrived at the restaurant, which made for a long evening, one that got even longer when the manager called the police to make sure that a group of adult women paid their bills.
Spencer said that after waiting almost half an hour for her check, one woman said that she was ready to leave the restaurant. Although the woman didn’t leave, the manager called the Orange Village Police Department to report them, and to ask an officer to stay on-site until all of the women had paid up. "Police were standing there to make sure everyone paid, which we felt was racial profiling," Spencer told the news outlet, adding that the manager’s allegations that the women caused “a disturbance” and used profanity was not true.
A police report confirms that all bills were paid and that, as soon as officers arrived, one member of the group said that she would “ensure all the bills were accounted for.” The cops stayed on-site for an hour, presumably nodding their heads as each woman paid her tab, which seems like an excellent use of both their time and taxpayer dollars.
“I am hoping that Bahama Breeze looks at this very carefully and alters policies and does some more training," Spencer said. "You cannot make assumptions that people are going to commit a crime based on how they look.”
Bahama Breeze seems to have made at least one policy decision: according to FOX 8, it has already fired the manager who called the police on a group of professional women. “We clearly fell short of delivering great service to our guests. The manager involved no longer works for us because they mistreated a guest, which is inconsistent with our values,” Rich Jeffers, Senior Director of Communications for Bahama Breeze parent company Darden Restaurants told MUNCHIES. “We have spoken with several members of the party to personally apologize and invite them back in order to provide an exceptional Bahama Breeze experience.”
The next night, a group of protestors congregated on the street outside the restaurant, and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge released a statement condemning the manager’s actions. “It is a chilling reminder that no African American is exempt from racial profiling when a group of professional women, known for their service and advocacy, are victims,” she wrote. “As an African American woman and a member of Delta Sigma Theta, I am appalled that this occurred in the district I represent.”
So much for that relaxed island aesthetic, huh?