Le Bilboquet restaurant in Buckhead, Atlanta recently came under fire for arbitrarily enforcing its dress code. first from a patron trying to dine there on May 16, then by Hawks’ basketball legend Dominique Wilkins over the weekend.
Monica Johnson had reservations for a brunch on the patio with two friends on Sunday May 16 and drove 40 miles to dine at the French restaurant. In a post on the left on Le Bilboquet Facebook siteJohnson says she was turned away for wearing a matching cotton tracksuit that told her it was against the restaurant’s dress code. She obeyed and ate elsewhere in the area. After walking past Le Bilboquet later, Johnson claimed the guests sat outside and dressed in similarly casual clothes, including ripped jeans, sneakers and T-shirts.
When Johnson confronted the manager on duty, she said he acknowledged the „inconsistencies” in the dress code that day and suggested that she contact the general manager. In an email to General Manager Mark Hoefer last week, Johnson said she posted a photo of herself in a green cotton suit and other patrons dressed similarly on the patio. He reportedly replied, comparing her outfit to „pajamas” and telling her that everyone else in the attached photos conformed to the dress code.
„It doesn’t seem consistent because some of the policy violations I have been given appear to have taken place,” she said CBS46.
Days later, Wilkins arrived unreservedly at Buckhead French restaurant wearing what he calls „designer slacks and shirt”. First he was told that there were no tables available. Wilkins then claims he was told he wasn’t properly dressed.
“In my many years in the world I have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world, but to this day I have never felt free of prejudice or rejected because of the color of my skin in #atlanta in @LeBilboquetAtl #. I turned away because I’m black, ”Wilkins said Twitter Saturday night.
In addition to his ten-plus-year run as a Hawks basketball player, for which he is often referred to as the „Human Highlight Reel,” Wilkins is also vice president and advisor to the team’s CEO and commentator for Bally Sports.
„I would have been fine if only they hadn’t said tables,” he adds Twitter. „But they looked me up and down beforehand and then said, and to add insult, they talked about how my clothes were not appropriate when I was wearing designer slacks and a shirt.”
Similar complaints about the dress code introduced by the restaurant last spring are listed on Yelp, Google and TripAdvisor, which the restaurant claims were raised due to „persistent complaints from our customers about the choice of other guests’ wardrobes.”
“At Le Bilboquet, we do our best to accommodate all of our guests. However, we have repeatedly received complaints from our customers regarding the choice of the wardrobe of other guests, ”says the restaurant in its initial statement to the press. “To protect our restaurant’s culture, we have therefore included a minimum standard in our dress code for“ business casual ”clothing that includes jeans and trainers but prohibits baseball Cs and sportswear, including sweatpants and tops. While the definition of “casual” is constantly evolving, we strive to maintain our political demands on a daily basis, but it is not a perfect system. „
Wilkins received a public address from Le Bilboquet on Sunday. However, Johnson says she hasn’t received one from the restaurant regarding her May 16 experience.
A statement sent to Eater by Le Bilboquet on Monday afternoon said the restaurant continues to „reassess” its dress code and plans to „clear up any confusion that could lead to misunderstandings.” The statement indicates changes to the dress code that will take effect immediately. This means that all current and future employees must complete communication training, diversity, equity and inclusion training, and implement „stricter protocols” to ensure that all guidelines in the restaurant are enforced „consistently and fairly”.
„Although we will continue to have a dress code, we find that our current policies require interpretation and can be unintentionally degrading and divisive,” the statement said in part. “We will not tolerate any implicit or explicit prejudice. We did it and we will continue [to] Do the job to make sure our restaurant is a place that everyone is made to feel welcome. We apologize again to Mr. Wilkins and hope these changes are made with progress in mind. ”
Last October, Buckhead’s upscale Umi sushi restaurant faced backlash and threats of boycott of their dress code, which an Atlanta couple allegedly used to racially discriminate against them. Kaylan Colbert and William Johnson have been informed by Umi management that Johnson is violating the restaurant’s dress code for wearing white Nike Air Force 1 Sneakers. After discussing politics, the couple were refused service and asked to leave.
The Houston restaurant in Atlanta has also been the center of racial profiling allegations over the years, including a 2015 incident related to a baseball C and cell phone use.
Atlanta attorney Yussuf Abdel-Aleem sued parent company Hillstone Restaurant Group, claiming a manager at Houston on Peachtree Road ordered him to remove his baseball C. He told him to hang up his cell phone before asking to leave the table, citing the restaurant’s guidelines. According to the lawsuit, members of the Dining Party (of which Abdel-Aleem was not a member) returned two months later with two other minority businessmen. The restaurant reportedly called the police and had the group escorted from the restaurant.
In 2017 calls to boycott Houston followed an accusation by actress Ernestine Johnson of who claimed she was denied service for „no good reason” at the Lenox Road location. A demonstration later took place outside the restaurant after Johnson alleged Houston had not tried to rectify the situation.
Update, May 24th, 2 p.m .: This story has been updated to include a statement from Le Bilboquet noting new dress code changes, staff training, and another ology for Dominique Wilkins.