A Washington D.C. restaurant and nightclub has changed its dress code after several guests complained that the rules were applied in a racist way.
El Centro D.F. restaurant had a “no sneakers” policy when Brian Gordon, who is black, set up a get together with friends there, Fox News reported.
At 10:30 p.m. on the night of the gathering, Gordon showed up at the restaurant. His friends were already inside, but the bouncer refused to let him enter because he was wearing sneakers.
“They’re not like ratty, dirty sneakers,” Gordon told The Washington Post. “They’re brand new, they’re leather. They were clean, fresh, white. It’s not like I showed up in five-year-old Chucks.”
— Yesha (@YeshaCallahan) December 24, 2017
Gordon sent a text to his friends inside to let them know he wasn’t allowed in. This is when his friend, Yasha Callahan, noted that a group of white men in tennis shoes was at the bar.
“They all have sneakers on,” Callahan told Fox News. “One guy had the same sneaker style that [Gordon] had.”
Gordon eventually got inside with the help of a friend, but the group moved to another bar down the street.
Gordon has no issue with the restaurant’s dress code, but said it was a problem “if it’s not being applied universally.”
Callahan wrote an article about the incident for The Root. That story was viewed more than 100,000 times and people who read it took to Twitter to share similar stories.
“Wow, the same thing happened to my homeboy last year. He called @ElCentroDF and they shrugged it off,” Alexandra Bolden wrote on Twitter.
“Two years ago, they stopped me and threatened to not let me in, saying “Hey, just so you know, we don’t let in sneakers Thurs-Sat”… it was a Tuesday,” Mike P. wrote on Twitter.
Another person left a review on Yelp describing the same problem, “Racist. My boyfriend (who is Puerto Rican) was denied entry into this establishment because of their ‘no tennis shoe policy.’ Meanwhile, I (White) was able to get in WITH THE EXACT SAME SHOES ON.”
Ayyaz Rashid, the managing partner of the restaurant group that runs El Centro D.F., changed to “no-sneakers” policy and fire the bouncer after the outcry following Gordon’s incident.
Celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, of Sandoval Restaurant Group, has a “zero tolerance for anything discriminatory,” Rashid told Washington Post.
Rashid added that patrons at the bar who wear sneakers were likely earlier dining at the restaurant, which does not have a dress code.
According to Rashid, the dress code policy in El Centro D.F. was similar to other establishments in the D.C. area, but Sandoval Restaurant Group will still perform an extra training to discuss this issue, to make sure [employees] understand what is right, what is not right.”
“I am a person of color myself,” Rashid said. “So to hear that I would be enforcing such policies, it’s pretty personal to me.”
Callahan was satisfied to learn about the changes but was upset that the restaurant did not act on earlier complaints.
“It shouldn’t take this massive amount of attention,” Callahan said. “If you want to have a policy, have it, but enforce that policy across the board. Don’t allow your bouncers to enforce it across their own biases.”
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