A group of Black Detroit officers say they were denied service at a restaurant because of their race. The alleged incident happened when 11 off-duty officers, who were mostly Black, went to a restaurant in Novi, Michigan after their shift on Monday night.
The officers said they waited several minutes to be seated, but the Bar Louie manager later came out and told them the kitchen was closed.
“One of my co-workers asked, ‘What time does the kitchen close?’ He didn’t give us a direct answer,” Sgt. Myron Watkins told Fox 2. “He pulled out his cell phone, looked at his cell phone and said, ‘It’s 9:26 and it closes at 9:30.’”
According to Fox 2, nine of the 11 officers are Black, one is Latino and the other is white. After they were allegedly denied service, the officers asked another Black man nearby to go in and try to get service.
“He was able to sit down, had a menu and he asked them what’s good to eat?” officer Dominique Brown told the newsstation. “She responded ‘A burger.’ We didn’t get that treatment.”
Although the Black customer was served without issue, the officers said they still felt that the restaurant had racially discriminated against them.
“One single Black guy isn’t a problem,” officer Johnathon Gardner told Fox 2. “As a group, I feel we were judged. They looked at us, and they judged us as a group, (like) ‘This is too many Black people coming into our establishment, this is too big of a concern, they’re going to cause a scene or a ruckus.’ And I feel like they judged us.”
Gardner, who has served 15 years in the military, said it felt like Jim Crow all over again.
“Like I told them outside being a Detroit police officer, I’m in the military for 15 years, and when you add it up we’ve all got 40 years we’ve served this country between us,” Gardner said. “And it’s like we can serve our country, but we can’t come in and have a burger, we can’t have anything to eat. It’s kind of infuriating because the same people we fight for, won’t even serve us.”
The officers, who eventually went to a Buffalo Wild Wings nearby, said they saw Bar Louie still opened later that night.
“Once we left the other restaurant, as we were walking by Bar Louie, they were serving food. And that was around 11 o’clock at night,” Watkins said. “So their kitchen didn’t close. It was just closed for us.”
According to the officers, the restaurant also has a sign on the door that says “kitchen stays open late.”
A spokesperson for Bar Louie said the restaurant has apologized for the incident.
“We have reached out to the group of officers to sincerely apologize for their experience and invited them back in to enjoy a chef-inspired meal and handcrafted cocktails on us,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Fox 2. “While we regret the incident occurred, we will use this opportunity to better train and educate our teams to ensure that it never happens again.”