Owners of Blufin Sushi fire back at claims of racism inside restaurant
Video paints different picture of what happened in restaurant
GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. – The owner of Blufin Sushi in Grosse Pointe Farms fired back Wednesday at claims that three women were racially discriminated against at the restaurant.
Video from security cameras shows the three black woman who say they were kicked out of the restaurant for no reason. The video paints a very different picture of what happened.
The owner's attorney is trying to chop away at the racism claims and the credibility of the three women. He said the video from inside the restaurant proves the incident was a misunderstanding, but it hasn't stopped demonstrators who support the women from gathering outside the restaurant.
The women insist Blufin discriminated against them by asking them to leave the restaurant to make room for other customers.
The surveillance video shows the three women were sitting at the bar for more than two hours.
They were clearly done with their meal, but the dispute comes as to whether they were still ordering drinks or simply taking up space.
The women argue the manager picked them out of all the other customers because they are black, but Blufin said the video shows there were other black people inside the packed restaurant last Saturday night.
The women posted on Facebook about the discrimination they received. They also claimed the manager assaulted them when she tried to escort them out of the establishment.
Blufin insisted the video never shows an assault.
According to the restaurant's menu, the staff reserves the right to ask a party to leave an hour and a half after they're done eating, but the woman think it's how the manager approached them that caused the problem.
On Wednesday night, the restaurant is closed as demonstrators stand outside.
Women claim they were discriminated against
The women said they were told to leave their seats at the bar and move to the waiting area. A Facebook Live video recorded shortly after the alleged incident has been shared thousands of times.
"I am not going anywhere. You chose the only black people in the establishment and asked them to get up. You are out of order," a woman on the video is heard saying.
Tanisha Prater was the one doing the recording. She said she and her friends were told to leave Blufin Sushi after they ordered food and a few drinks. They believe they were targeted by the general manager.
"She said, 'Well, there are customers who want to sit here at the bar and if you ladies aren't done we can move you over to another table,'" said Kimberly Hudson.
Adrienne Savage said there were other people at the bar but the manager only approached their group. The women said no one was seated at the bar after they left.
"My hands are shaking. I have not experienced this kind of racism in quite a long time, and honestly I don't know how to take it," Prater said in the Facebook video.
Police said the manager called them and explained she was trying to make space and she thought Prater, Hudson and Savage already had cashed out. The women said that's not true.
"As a general manager, you can easily find out who has cashed out and who has not," Savage said.
The owner said if there's a wait, the policy on the menu says customers can be asked to leave after an hour and 45 minutes. He said there was a 35-minute wait at the time, but how the policy was implemented is under review.
The women had been at Blufin Sushi for about two hours when they said they were approached, but they said there were empty tables available, and nobody else was asked to leave.
"I still have the feeling that there was no mistake, that she knew exactly what she was doing and that's why there was no apology that ever occurred after the incident," Savage said.
The women all live in nearby Grosse Pointe Park. They are mothers in their 40s. They are seeking charges against the general manager at Blufin. They want her charged with assault and racial discrimination.
Owner apologizes for incident
Owner Joel Radu said he wants to meet the women who said they were racially targeted by a general manager at the restaurant.
"I apologize that anybody would have that experience here, and that's never what I ever want to see happen again," Radu said. "I would like the opportunity to talk to them and hear their experience and learn from it and see how we can make the changes to make sure that doesn't happen again."
"Staff is always a challenge to make sure that they do and say the right things," Radu said. "I don't know how this situation was handled."
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