The Olive Garden likes to say “When You’re Here, You’re Family.” Well, the same sentiment doesn’t seem to be extended to its Black employees. Recently, when a customer, a white woman, came to an Olive Garden restaurant in Indiana she demanded a server who is not Black. And according to an employee and an observer account, the manager complied.
According to Amira Donahue, 16, a hostess at the restaurant in Evansville in southwestern Indiana, the customer complained to a manager about her and the other Black hostess working at the time.
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“She made comments about me to my co-workers concerning my race and saying that I should work at a strip club instead,” Donahue told NBC News. “She asked if I’m even Black and if I am from here.”
The customer, who was with other people, including two children, had been seated at a table that had a Black server. She screamed and demanded a non-Black server.
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“[The customer] stood in the middle of the restaurant and started screaming at me in front of all of the customers,” Donahue told WEHT, adding that she felt the manager’s decision to offer another server was a “bad decision.”
“Maxwell Robbins, 22, a customer who witnessed the entire ordeal, told NBC News he was so disturbed by what transpired that he documented it in a Facebook post and submitted multiple complaints to Olive Garden by phone,” NBC News reported. The post has been shared more than 2,500 times.
“I would never expect it to be so apparent in public like it’s 2020, not 1920 and I feel like it should take more than social media to get a problem like this out there,” Donahue said.
Meagan Bernstein, a spokeswoman for Olive Garden, said the restaurant chain has zero-tolerance for discrimination of any kind and that the manager has been let go.