By AFRO Staff
Police were called to The Bahama Breeze Restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio after the manager said members of a group of Black women were refusing to pay their bill.
The women were gathered on June 19 to celebrate a member of Delta Sigma Theta signing a book deal and moving to the West Coast. Chante Spencer, a Delta, told Cleveland.com that while members of the sorority were part of the group, the individual who was disputing the bill was not a Delta.
“Police were standing there to make sure everyone paid, which we felt was racial profiling,” Spencer told Cleveland.com.
Bahama Breeze is part of the Darden company, which also owns the Olive Garden. Rich Jeffers, Darden’s senior director of communications, told Cleveland.com, “We clearly fell short of delivering great service, and we’ve invited the guests back in order to provide an exceptional Bahama Breeze experience.”
One of the women with the group allegedly told the restaurant she would not pay because she had been waiting 25 minutes for her bill. Spence denied that this happened. The police were called and were at the restaurant for approximately one hour. No arrests were made.
“I am hoping that Bahama Breeze looks at this very carefully and alters policies and does some more training,” Spencer told Cleveland.com. “You cannot make assumptions that people are going to commit a crime based on how they look.”
The AFRO obtained a letter sent to members of the sorority after the incident by Beverly E. Smith, national president and CEO of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
“As some of you may have heard from broadcast or social media this morning, there was an incident at a Bahama Breeze in Cleveland, Ohio. While there were members of the Sorority among the group of Black women who experienced racial profiling and perceived discrimination at the establishment, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, was not the focus of the incident.
As a public service organization committed to social action, we empathize with those involved. This is an unfortunate situation which is yet another reminder of the strained race relations within our society, and it further underscores the urgency of the Sorority’s awareness and involvement as a champion for the cause of civil and human rights.”