An IHOP location in Auburn, Maine announced that its temporary closing to retrain employees after a group of black teens were made to prepay for their food. According to People, another customers posted about the incident on Facebook Sunday (March 11), prompting a response from the restaurant.
Avery Gagne, was eating with his parents when he noticed the black teens being discriminated against. “Today I witnessed something that has left me feeling literally ill,” he wrote explaining that the group of teens were sitting across from them. “I heard them order their food and they were respectful and were not loud or rude etc. We paid and sat there for a few minutes and I heard an employee tell the table that they were going to need to pay upfront and that it was ‘a new generation thing.’”
Gagne’s parents questioned the waitress about the alleged policy, and according to his FB post, she said that it was a request sent down from management that had nothing to do with race.
“Now what I didn’t tell you at the beginning of this post was that these were four African American teens who I believe were Somali as the girl was wearing a hijab,” Gagne continued. “The reason why I didn’t mention that is because it does not matter. The woman took it upon herself to make this group of teens pay for their meal upfront because she considered them ‘high risk’. I don’t care who has walked out on your establishment. That does not give you the right to determine who you believe is going to or not. My parents and I did not pay upfront for our meal, none of the tables around us prepaid for their meals.”
Manger Melvin Escobar said that restaurant “does not discriminate” against people “for who they are or what they are,” and doesn’t believe the act was racially motivated. “This is the first time it happened, and that will be the last time,” Escobar vowed.
Escobar explained that the waitress assumed that a group of young diners would skip out on the bill because it happened in the past.
In a separate Facebook post, the IHOP location “sincerely” apologized for the waitstaff’s behavior and promised to hold a meeting with the entire crew.
“Everyone has been made aware of these inexcusable actions and reminded how we handle matters correctly in the future,” the statement reads. “We have rectified the situation and can guarantee this is not what we condone to go on within our restaurant.”
The IHOP incident is similar to one that occurred at a Missouri Applebee’s last month, where two young black customers were accused of dinning and dashing and then returning to eat the next day. Applebee’s issued an apologized after the story went viral.