NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins says he was turned away from a restaurant in Buckhead over his race.
The Atlanta Hawks legend claims it happened at French bistro Le Bilboquet and that this was the first time he’d experienced racism at a restaurant.
"In my many years in the world, I’ve eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world, but never have I felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin, until today," he tweeted.
The restaurant claims Wilkins was turned away because of the way he was dressed and responded via Twitter.
"We do our best to accommodate all of our guests. We have a 'business casual' dress code which includes jeans & sneakers but prohibits athletic clothing including sweat pants & tops. The definition of “casual” is ever evolving, we strive to maintain our policy requirements daily," the restaurant said in a Tweet that has since been deleted, 11Alive reports.
Responses to the restaurant’s tweet showed photos of other diners wearing athletic attire with some saying Wilkins’ experience is not the only one involving alleged racism. In a follow-up tweet, Wilkins said when he first arrived at the restaurant he was told there were no tables available. Subsequently, he says they told him he was “not dressed fashionably enough.”
“I would have been fine if they said just no tables,” Wilkins tweeted. But they looked me up and down before that and then said that and to add insult, talked about how my clothes were not appropriate when I was wearing designer casual pants and a shirt.”
On Sunday morning (May 23), the restaurant again responded, saying the dress code policy is not meant to offend anyone and that they welcome an open dialogue with him.
"Our dress code policy is not meant to offend anyone but rather provide our guests with an acceptable clothing guide,” the statement read. “We apologize for the confusion it may have caused. Our upscale dining experience and our brand's culture is made up of multiple elements which includes our music, our food and our patrons' attire. We are very sorry that our attempt to maintain consistency in our dress code policy caused Mr. Wilkins to feel unwanted in our restaurant as that was not our intention and would welcome an open dialogue with him.”
On Sunday, the restaurant's manager spoke with 11Alive regarding the incident.
"We never want anyone to feel, in this community, discriminated against because of anything, especially, the color of their skin," General Manager Mark Hoefer said. "Especially someone who is a pillar of this community like Mr. Wilkins."
He added: "We're pretty comfortable in our minimum standard which is no athletic wear, nothing overly revealing.”
(Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)