Several African-American women have accused staff at a Harlem restaurant of racial profiling, claiming workers falsely accused them of dining and dashing.
Harlem resident Tara Fitzgibbon said she visited the Angel of Harlem eatery for the first time Feb. 10, the New York Daily News reported. The restaurant was packed with guests, so Fitzgibbon and her friends made their way to the bar.
Things went awry after they ordered drinks, however, as a manager approached them from behind an demanded to know how they planned to pay for their beverages. Fitzgibbon said he became aggressive and accused her of running up a tab and leaving a few days earlier, but the woman said she tried to explain it was her first time at the restaurant.
Things only escalated from there. According to Fitzgibbon, the manager went berserk, snatching a menu from her hand, pounding on the bar and repeatedly accusing her of lying. She said he then claimed he had footage of her alleged dining and dashing, and showed her video of another Black woman who looked nothing like her.
“We were beyond embarrassed,” Fitzgibbon, 45, told the Daily News. “I felt dehumanized. They made us feel as if we were criminals.”
As the manager continued accusing her of lying, Fitzgibbon’s friend, Tamara Young, shouted, “What, do all Black people look alike to you?”
The manager subsequently yelled for the women to leave, pushing and shoving them out of the restaurant. Both Fitzgibbon and Young ended filing police reports after the incident and said they’re considering legal action against the restaurant, according to the newspaper.
The ladies were the only ones who felt they were racially profiled by the eatery, however.
A woman who only identified herself as Kristina on a Yelp review said she shared a similar experience. Kristina also visited the restaurant on Feb. 10 and said a bartender there tried to overcharge her. When she asked why, she said the woman became belligerent and accused her boyfriend of stealing alcohol.
“We were told that my partner had been stealing drinks from the counter and that is why we were charged extra,” Kristina wrote in the review. “If he had been stealing, why weren’t we kicked out then? This doesn’t make any sense.”
She added that she told the bartender she had no right to falsely accuse her boyfriend, to which the woman allegedly responded, “I’m from Europe, b—h.”
“Being from Europe should make no difference in the way patrons are treated or spoken to,” Kristina wrote. “It’s eye-opening how establishments are treating locals in Harlem and what they allow their staff to get away with … I’ve never been treated this way in my own neighborhood. I will not be going back nor will I recommend this establishment to anyone again.”
Angel of Harlem owner Anahi Angelone spoke with the Daily News and confirmed that the bartender in question had been suspended. She repeatedly referred to the racial profiling allegations as “unfortunate misunderstandings.”