Atlanta Hostess Fired For Using Racial Slur In Front of Customers

In Depth

Barbecue is really good, if you’re into that sort of thing. On the other hand, racism is not good, even and especially if you’re into that sort of thing.

Fox Bro’s Bar-B-Q is kind of a big deal in the Atlanta, GA area. People know it. It generally has very good Yelp reviews, and it’s considered one of the more popular restaurants in Atlanta. It’s also the official restaurant of the Atlanta Falcons, for whatever that’s worth.*

So needless to say, the following Yelp review from LA-based writer Steph Cha is probably not going to reflect well on Fox Bro’s reputation:

I was having a pleasant enough dinner at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q when whoops, racism rained on my head from behind. The way I remember it is this: I was enjoying a meal with my husband and one of his best friends from childhood, who we never see. I had just received my plate and had my teeth halfway through a chicken wing. The hostess walked behind our table and chanted, “CHING CHONG CHING CHONG.”
My husband and I both froze and just stared at each other. My back had been to the hostess, and for around fifteen seconds, we wondered, silently, if it could be innocent. She had chanted it like you might chant “Ding dong ding dong,” with that sing-song voice. Then she went outside, and when she came back in, she was leading a group of eight Asian-American diners.

When Cha engaged the restaurant on Twitter,** their initial response was to apologize but make excuses: the hostess was at the host stand trying to figure out the pronunciation of a guest’s name. Obviously that isn’t what happened (if you need me to tell you why, you’re on the wrong website), but I’d strongly guess that’s what the host told whichever manager asked her about the situation. That’s still a bullshit excuse, and the fact that the manager took it at face value makes me seriously question their discernment. That’s the best possible reading. The worst, that the manager knew it was bullshit and decided to pass it off anyway, is one I sincerely hope isn’t true.

The restaurant did ultimately do the right thing and fired the employee in question within 48 hours of the incident, supposedly suspending the employee even as they were offering up the pronunciation excuse. Fox Bro’s also told Eater they fired the employee as soon as they learned about the incident, but the DM’s Cha mentions cast doubt there, at least initially. Regardless of whether the employee was promptly fired, the initial response was still to make excuses. They say agree the incident was “highly offensive,” but the fact of the immediate excuses is still worthy of some serious side-eye, even as it is in no way surprising.

We’re going to be talking soon enough on Kitchenette about the issue of race in restaurants. For now, suffice it to say that while it may seem shocking to a lot of you that the hostess said something like that so casually, as if it wasn’t even out of the ordinary, that’s because it probably wasn’t. The difference between what this hostess said and what gets said every day at most restaurants is as simple as it is messed up: she forgot she was on the floor when she was saying it.

Not only was I not shocked to see the following tweet in response to Cha, I’m willing to bet money it came from a restaurant employee:

Cha’s review goes on to note that their server herself was exceptional and they didn’t fault or undertip her as a result of the hostess’ behavior. However, she won’t be back, and who could blame her? Casual racism doesn’t make for great leftovers.

* I’m going to assume this means everything in the restaurant breaks down and goes to shit every December, and you can’t convince me otherwise.

** Some of you are probably going to say “she should’ve talked to a manager.” To her credit, Cha also says she probably should have. It’s easy to see why she didn’t, though — when confronted with that sort of shit, it can be hard to know how to react. For a lot of people, the instinct is to lock up and not even figure out how to process what’s happened until later.

Update: Fox Bro’s has claimed that they fired the employee before the Yelp review was posted, so this has been updated to reflect that.

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