Captain Steve’s has released a statement in respond to allegations of racism from a group of black patrons. The full statement is below.
Sylvia Blair and her family say they made reservations at Captain Steve’s Saturday to celebrate her husband’s 72nd birthday. She told a local TV station that during an argument over reservations and how many were present, the owner made a racist remark and forced their group to leave.
Civil rights activist John Barnett has stepped up to help the family get legal aid and there were calls for a boycott.
One of the patrons, Crystal Alexander, posted a statement online, claiming that a waitress said, “They don’t want our black dollars.”
In her post, Alexander said, “Let’s see how many BLACK DOLLARS you get now that you’ve been exposed to RACISM!!! I’m sure my family isn’t the only one’s that’s experienced this type of behavior from them before. “
On Thursday, the restaurant released this lengthy statement and posted a surveillance video on Facebook showing at least one of the patrons screaming loudly before they were asked to leave:
To All Captain Steve’s Loyal Customers, Friends, Supporters, Employees and Members of the Community:
“We at Captain Steve’s, have been the subject of a great deal of media coverage over the last two weeks over an incident that occurred on Saturday, June I, 2019 at our Fort Mill, South Carolina location. During the time between the alleged incident and today, we have remained silent as other groups and their followers have taken the opportunity to share their view of what occurred and their followers have not held back in attempting to mete out punishment for the perceived slight. They have done this in person, by approaching members of the Captain Steve’s family and threatening the lives and safety of the employees and customers of Captain Steve’s. They have written vile things on the internet and suggested horrible outcomes to our “family,” not only not knowing what truly happened but based on the messages, we are not confident that they have any affiliation or even know the so called “victim’s” in this matter.
“Yet, through it all, we, at Captain Steve’s, remained silent in an effort to quell the situation and attempt to remain “above the fray”. We can stay silent no longer. After a thorough investigation that we conducted, at our own expense, and review of video of the incident as well as interviews with the people involved, we believe it is important to relay our version of what occurred on that Saturday night.
“On Saturday night, June 1, 2019, representatives of a group of customers came into the restaurant and requested a table for 16 people. Our manager asked the person if the entire party was present and she was informed that they were not. At that time, the manager informed the person that they could not seat the party until all members were present. The woman appeared to understand.
“A little while later, the woman indicated that there had been a change in plan and there would be 18 for dinner. The change was noted. The woman then indicated that the entire party was present and she was given a coaster to alert her for her table. The coaster was activated and as the party was being shown into the dining room, the manager counted the members of the party and she only counted 13 people, 2 other gentlemen came in after she counted the 13. It was at this time that the manager spoke to the members of the party that she had been dealing with and explained that she could not seat a partial party. The members indicated that they wanted to be seated and the manager explained that if she sat the party, other members of the party coming later would not be able to sit with them for space reasons.
“From there, certain members of the group, began to argue loudly and raise their voices. This is occurring in the entrance to a large dining room where many people are dining and attempting to enjoy their meal. At this point in time, the proprietor (Captain Steve) came over to speak to the group and was met with screaming and pointing fingers at him. He tried calmly to explain the situation. It clearly was not working and after several moments and a crowded restaurant, he asked the party to leave. The disturbance had to come to an end and it was apparent to management that it was not going to end unless the group was given their way.
“One particular member of the party flew into a rage and had to be escorted out by members of her own group. She was cursing and screaming and could be heard well above the sound of an already crowded restaurant. That is what occurred that night. There have been allegations made that the group was told that their “black dollars” were not wanted at Captain Steve’s; that never happened. There are allegations that racial comments were made; that never happened. There are allegations that the group was treated the way they were because they were African American; that is absolutely not true.
“The truth is that the first time any mention of money is made is when they were asked to leave, a member of the group can be heard being asked to leave says, “our money is green too”. Later, the group standing outside repeats that same statement and someone else in the group can be heard to say “they don’t want our black dollars”. A member of the group said that; not any person affiliated with Captain Steve’s.
“Captain Steve’s has been in business for 23 years and has served the community, the whole community, all that time. A large percentage of our business is derived from the African American community. We have never had to say that before because we do not see race or religion or ethnic background. We see customers, some of whom have become loyal customers and friends over the years. But unfortunately, we are forced to say it now. And we do so solely to let the community know that this incident did not occur as is being told.
“We give our solemn word that if our investigation showed any improper conduct, not only would it have been dealt with immediately but we would have come to the community on bended knee seeking forgiveness. We do not claim perfection. On the other hand, we should not be made out to be the wrongdoer, if it is not true.
“The group that came in that night has every right to speak out and say what they feel and perceive. We would never ask to take that right away from them. But there are two other facts that are of equal importance. First, they have a right to be questioned as to the accuracy and legitimacy of their claims and secondly, we have the equal right to speak out as well in opposition to anything that is said. Up until this moment, we have sat back and investigated what occurred and allowed others to speak and say hurtful things about our business and us personally and we did not respond until we had all the facts. We will not sit back any longer.
“We did nothing wrong that night. All we did was enforce a policy that we have enforced for 20 years and did so with no attention to race or any other factor. The mere fact that someone decides that race was the factor does not make it true. It never has and in this case, it certainly does not either.
“I have learned over the last two weeks that people will rush to judgement whether they have all the facts or do not. I am equally aware that some people will read this and will agree and others will continue to hold their beliefs. But I encourage everyone who has any doubts about the Captain Steve’s family to come in and meet us and decide for yourself whether this is a welcoming environment.
“And lastly, to all the wonderful people who have been so supportive over the last two weeks, you have my unending appreciation.”