Shut It Down

by Vanessa Rivers

I was watching YouTube the other day, and I saw this video about “Houston’s”, a restaurant chain located in the city of Buckhead, Georgia, that had refused service to a group of young black professionals.  This business owner, whose office is located across the street from this restaurant, takes six of his employee’s there for dinner.   The hostess tells them that they could not accommodate a party of seven or more, so the group tells the hostess that they would split their group into two separate groups, one group of four and the other three, at separate tables, sections and waitress’s.  The hostess tells them no, they could not do that, but if they would go out and come back in, then maybe, they might be seated.  They then asked to speak to the manager who still denies them seating.  They film the majority of what happens to them and post it online, which sparks an ever-increasing protest, and a call for a boycott.

My family and I have a running joke, well it’s less of a joke, and more of a recounting of the painful memories surrounding the circumstances of the countless number of times we’ve gone to a restaurant, we’ve ordered, waited an unusually long amount of time, and for one crazy reason after the other, we never receive our food, and end up just walking out.  It’s sad to say, but there have been so many of these incidents that I can barely remember them all, but here are a few:

  • It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m nine months’ pregnant, and my husband, my three-yr. old and I go to the one and only, newly opened, Red Lobster in the city for dinner. Since it is a holiday, we decide to go early around 4pm so we won’t run into a crowd.  We order, our drinks come, and we wait, and wait, and wait.  My husband stops the waitress several times asking about our food, especially since people who were seated after us have received their food, and have left.  Finally, my three-year-old’s, meal shows up along with a promise that our meals will be right out, they weren’t.  My husband, who is a very patient man, says “that’s it, let’s go.”
  • It was my birthday and my husband took me out for a nice romantic dinner, just the two of us.  I decided to go all out, so I ordered the Lobster.  While we waited for our dinners, we were served our wine, and a basket of bread.   We wait, and wait, and once again we are given some crazy excuses, as to why our food hasn’t been served.  My husband looks at me, and once again I hear him say, “that’s it, let’s go.”
  • My daughter and I go to Applebee’s for lunch, and I am determined, that we will eat this time without any problems. Well, she got the salad that she ordered, but nothing for me.   This time it was me who said, “that’s it, let’s go.”

I know that there were many more times that this has happened to our family, but I just don’t remember them.   I guess it’s a good thing that I can’t remember more, because the more I write, the madder I get.   I know that we are not the only black people who have experienced this, whether it’s in a restaurant, or while shopping, or any other business where we expect to receive service just like anyone else, but we don’t.   I think that it’s great that these people are brave enough to publicize their treatment at this restaurant so that other black people don’t have to experience this type of anger and embarrassment.   When businesses are disrespectful and deny us service, then I feel that it’s our duty to stop giving them our money, it’s as simple as that.  Let’s continue to organize by banding together, protesting and boycotting establishments like “Houston’s”, together we can demand equal treatment, and we’ll either receive it, or we will “shut, it, down.”


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