NBA Hall of Famer and Atlanta Hawks Vice President Dominique Wilkins was issued an apology from an Atlanta restaurant after he detailed an alleged racist experience online. Wilkins shared how he believed his treatment at Le Bilboquet, a French restaurant in the Georgia capital, was due to his race. On May 22, he tweeted a photo of the eatery, saying he was refused service due to the color of his skin.
“In my many years in the world, I’ve eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world, but never have I felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin,” he wrote, adding the hashtag #turnedawaybecauseimblack.
“I would have been fine if they said just no tables,” he added in an additional tweet. “But they looked me up and down before that and then said that and to add insult, talked about how my clothes were not appropriate.”
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Buckhead restaurant initially issued a statement on the night of the incident, regarding the circumstances, not a direct apology.
“We, at Le Bilboquet, do our best to accommodate all of our guests. However, we have received consistent complaints from our patrons regarding other guest’s wardrobe choices,” the statement read. “As a result, to protect our restaurant’s culture, we installed a minimum standard in our ‘business casual’ attire dress code which includes jeans and sneakers but prohibits baseball caps and athletic clothing including sweat pants and tops. Though the definition of ‘casual’ is ever-evolving, we strive to maintain our policy requirements daily but it isn’t a perfect system.”
The restaurant followed up with an official apology via social media on May 23.
“We want to apologize to Mr. Wilkins for his experience at our restaurant and also for any confusion our dress code may have caused. We in no way intended for him to feel unwanted, and welcome an open dialogue with him. Our upscale dining experience and our brand’s culture is made up of multiple elements, which include our music, our food and our patrons’ attire. We continue to strive to manifest our dining experience in a way that is exciting and most importantly, inclusive.”
The restaurant confirmed its dress code policy will continue, however, has promised to provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training to all current and new employees.
LE BILBOQUET ISSUES FORMAL APOLOGY TO DOMINIQUE WILKINS pic.twitter.com/Qtk1HDaTzz
— Le Bilboquet (@LeBilboquetAtl) May 24, 2021
Still, Wilkins is disappointed with his experience and expressed his full shock during an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday.
“It’s a clear act of discrimination. I was just blown away,” he shared. “They were very very nasty.”
“You’re Dominique Wilkins. You’re a legend in Atlanta…I think that any restaurant in the Atlanta area, I’m just being honest, should know who the hell Dominique Wilkins is,” Lemon added.
The nine-time NBA All-Star responded, “You know what Don? It shouldn’t happen to anybody.”