The owner of an Atlanta sushi restaurant has issued an apology after facing accusations of racial discrimination from a black couple who claimed they were refused service because one of them was wearing sneakers but allowed white patrons inside the restaurant to wear them.
Last Friday, Kaylan Colbert and her husband, William Johnson, arrived early for their 5:15 p.m. reservation at Umi Sushi in Buckhead, Atlanta, when they were told by management that Johnson was violating the restaurant's dress code because he was wearing white Nike Air Force 1 sneakers.
'This is Pure Racism'
The incident, shared on Instagram by Colbert, an attorney by profession, shows Johnson arguing with the management for enforcing the dress code on him because of the color of his skin while conveniently ignoring a white patron who was allowed to stay despite wearing similar sneakers inside the establishment.
"This is pure racism, she has on Adidas," Johnson could be heard saying to the staff member while referring to a white woman sitting at the bear, wearing metallic silver sneakers. The employee then starts walking away before threatening to call the police on the couple.
The restaurant's owner Farshid Arshid then got involved as he argued with the couple in the parking lot after they were escorted out of the establishment. "He's going to go to jail tonight," Arshid said. "I'm not letting Air Force 1s in my establishment." Johnson and Arshid nearly come to blows prompting the restaurant's staff members to intervene.
Calls for Boycott Force Owner to Apologize
The video instantly went viral across all social media platforms, sparking backlash from the online community. While some shared photo evidence of the restaurant allowing non-black patrons to wear sneakers inside, others called for a boycott of the establishment.
"Umi Sushi in Atlanta needs a lesson in the power of the boycott," wrote one user, while another user, a fan of the restaurant, commented, "I won't be going back. A shame, because Umi is my favorite sushi spot in the city."
"If you're near a place called Umi Sushi in Buckhead, maybe keep driving to a better sushi place when a craving strikes," opined yet another.
Shortly after the backlash, the owner of the restaurant apologized to the couple for his behavior and the restaurant's handling of the situation.
"We should never have engaged with each other. I feel ashamed about that. We as the restaurant should have deescalated the situation," Arshid said. "I don't know whether the woman [at the bar] had sneakers on or not, but this was 100 percent an operational failure by us and by me. When I got engaged, I should have investigated it. Maybe I should have gone inside and looked and come back out and said, 'Sir, you're right.'"