A group of children and adults were reportedly celebrating a birthday at a Naperville, Illinois Buffalo Wild Wings last weekend when they were asked to move to different tables because of their race.
Two men who were part of the group told the Chicago Tribune they visited the restaurant on October 26 to celebrate a child’s birthday. As employees set up tables to seat the group, a host asked Justin Vahl, one of the men, about his ethnicity.
Vahl claims a manager later asked the group to move to another location because a nearby customer didn’t want to sit near Black people. He says he’s multiracial and has never experienced discrimination on that scale before in public.
The Tribune reports that when Vahl returned to the waiting area to discuss adding more chairs to his party’s table, he was asked by a host, who was Black, “What race are you?”
Vahl then asked why it mattered, which preceded the host explaining to him that one of the restaurant’s regular customers seated nearby “doesn’t want Black people sitting near him.”
“I’m not going to let a customer dictate where we sit,” Vahl said in reaction, telling the host to seat the party at the table.
After multiple managers tried to have Vahl’s group move, he said he decided to take everyone to a different restaurant.
Marcus Riley, the other man who spoke to the Tribune and one of the adults present during the incident, said he was asked by children in his group, “Why does he not like us?”
“That was the most troubling thing for me,” he explained. “I’ve never in my entire life experienced something like that. To have my children go through that, it brought me to tears.”
Claire Kudlata, coordinator of Buffalo Wild Wing’s brand communications, said in an email statement to the Tribune that Buffalo Wild Wings has zero-tolerance for discrimination.
“We take this alleged incident very seriously and are conducting a thorough, internal investigation,” she wrote. “We’re in direct communication with the guest to understand their account of what happened and to offer our deepest apologies for any unacceptable behavior.”
Riley says he reached out to the company to tell them about his experience and wants to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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