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The restaurant blamed the incident on the host—and not the manager who called the cops.
A Texas restaurant has apologized for “miscommunication” that led to a Black couple having the cops called on them Saturday night because they had refused to move from their seats for a white couple.
According to WFAA 8, author and motivational speaker Johnny Wimbrey and his wife were having dinner at Sambuca 360 in Plano, a city an hour north of Dallas. When they were about to order, the restaurant’s manager approached them and asked them if they would give up their table.
The manager had wanted to give the table to a white man who he said was a regular at the restaurant.
“I said, ‘No, I think we want to sit here. We have a great view. It’s only a table for two.’ We declined the offer respectfully,” Wimbrey told the station.
When Wimbrey declined, the manager got angry and told the couple to leave. At this point, Wimbrey began recording the encounter.
“You can pay the tab. You are leaving,” the manager told them.
“Why am I leaving?” Wimbrey asked.
“Because I am asking you to leave,” the manager answered again.
“Why?” Wimbrey asked again.
“Because I don’t like you,” the manager told him.
The manager then told them to leave, or he would call the cops on the couple, which he did. At that point, Wimbrey and his wife decided to walk out but spotted Plano police entering the restaurant.
“The Plano police show up. They jump out of the car and I thought, ‘What would happen if I didn’t leave?’” Wimbrey told the station.
The incident is reminicent of a similar event that took place in Philadelphia last month, during which Starbucks employees called the police on two Black men who hadn’t ordered anything because they were waiting for a friend but had asked to use the restroom. Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson settled with the company for $1 each. They will also release the city and employees of all claims in exchange for a $200,000 fund to assist young entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.
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Wimbrey said he’s held company parties with more than 200 people at the restaurant before, and he believes that he and his wife were asked to move tables because they are Black. Wimbrey’s attorney Bobbie Edmunds has requested to hear the 911 call that the restaurant made regarding his client.
Sambuca has since apologized for the incident with a statement, blaming the altercation on a host seating error. The restaurant alleged that the Wimbreys hadn’t been seated at the table by the host and that the white regular had made reservations for the table a week in advance. The restaurant told Newsweek the manager didn’t make racial remarks during the incident.
“We apologize for the miscommunication with our guest on Saturday night, which resulted from a mix-up at our host stand,” the restaurant told WFAA 8. “Sambuca has no tolerance for discrimination and always wants to make every guest feel welcome and respected.”
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.