Buffalo Wild Wings asked a group to move because a customer didn’t ‘want black people sitting near him.’


The Vahls went out on a Saturday night near Chicago in search of dinner.

But the family and their party, a mostly African American group of parents and young kids celebrating a birthday, say they faced discrimination head-on instead when staff at a Buffalo Wild Wings repeatedly ordered them to leave their table — all because another customer did not want to sit next to black people.

Now, the incident has gone viral, the staff has been fired, and the restaurant chain is facing backlash after yet another troubling example of public discrimination captured online.

“If you don’t want to sit next to certain people in a public restaurant then you should probably eat dinner in the comfort of your own home,” Mary Vahl wrote on Facebook, in a post that has been shared more than 4,500 times as of early Monday.

The company “values an inclusive environment and has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” a spokesperson said in a statement to WBBM.

On Oct. 26, following a birthday party, the Vahls’ party showed up to a Buffalo Wild Wings in a strip mall in Naperville, Ill., a racially diverse suburb about 40 minutes southwest of Chicago. Mary’s husband, Justin, asked for a table for 15, but as a host began setting up their table, he quickly realized he had miscounted the size of the group and went up to correct his mistake.

the host — a young African American man — asked a question that took him aback: “What race are you guys?”

“Why does it matter?” Justin Vahl asked the host.

Sitting nearby, the host said, was a regular customer who “doesn’t want black people sitting near him.” He labeled the man as racist.

The Vahls and their friends didn’t want to give that other customer any satisfaction, so they sat down at the table anyway and began ordering drinks and appetizers. All the while, they started getting glares from the man — who appears to be white in a photo Mary posted to Facebook — and noticed him talking to waitstaff. That’s when a manager told them they’d have to get up for a new table.

“These seats are reserved,” the manager told them, “and we will have to move your group.” (Never mind the fact that Buffalo Wild Wings doesn’t take reservations, according to the Naperville Sun.)

When they complained to their waitress, she told them that she already knew what was happening: The regular customer is a racist, she said, though she couldn’t do anything. When multiple managers attempted to order the group to move to a new table, the six adults in the party decided to leave Buffalo Wild Wings entirely.

By Sunday, multiple employees at the restaurant had been fired and several others had quit, though local media did not report how many were dismissed or what role they had played in the incident.

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