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Atlas Restaurant Group responds to video showing young boy being denied seating

Posted at 9:26 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 17:36:05-04

BALTIMORE — Atlas Restaurant Group has released a statement after a video showed a mother and son being denied seating at one of their restaurants due to the son "not meeting dress code requirements."

According to Atlas, the incident occurred at the Ouzo Bay restaurant in Baltimore.

The video shows the woman's 9-year-old African American son wearing athletic shorts and an Air Jordan shirt. The video also shows a Caucasian youth, dressed similarly, who was permitted to dine in the restaurant.

According to the company, the manager seen in the video, and one other, were fired.

"We are sickened by this incident. We sincerely apologize to Marcia Grant, her son and everyone impacted by this painful incident," they state in their message. "This difficult situation does not represent who or what Atlas Restaurant Group stands for."

Their full statement can be read below:

On Tuesday, Atlas released another statement saying:

At Atlas, we stand against all forms of racism and believe Black lives matter.

NOW is the time for change. And we believe that change begins at home - with introspection and self-reflection. We are committed to listening. We are committed to engaging in open, honest dialogue about discrimination and racial inequality - with our team, colleagues, family, friends, and community. We are committed to educating ourselves, to bettering ourselves, and to creating a company culture that celebrates diversity and stands against discrimination in any form.

Within the past 24 hours, we were made aware of a disturbing incident that occurred over the weekend at one of our Baltimore restaurants in which a Black mother, Marcia Grant, and her son were denied service for wearing clothing that did not adhere to our dress code. A video of the incident also shows a Caucasian youth, dressed similarly, who was permitted to dine in the restaurant. We are sickened by this incident and we sincerely apologize to Marcia Grant, her son and everyone impacted by this painful experience. They deserved better.

Since learning of this incident, Atlas leadership has taken the following action:

· Launched an assertive internal investigation, which included extensive video review, analysis, workforce interviews and input from human resources professionals and other experts in the field.

· As a result of the investigation, two Ouzo Bay managers have been separated from and are no longer with the organization. To reiterate, there is a level of sensitivity, discretion, and customer service we expect from our managers and all who represent the Atlas brand.

· Revised our dress code policy so that children 12 years old and younger, who are accompanied by an adult, will no longer be subject to a dress code at any Atlas property.

· Communicated with our Atlas employees to inform them of the new dress code policy, reiterate and reinforce our unwavering position that there is no place for racism nor discrimination in any form within our company. We will continue to implement our diversity and inclusion training required for all employees and are currently educating ourselves on additional ways we can continue to expand and improve these efforts.

· Attempted to connect with Marcia Grant and her son. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful but we will continue to try and open dialogue. Again, we want to extend our sincerest, heartfelt apology. We don’t want anyone to go through this type of embarrassing and hurtful experience.

What took place was not only disturbing, it was also eye-opening, and we are committed to learning from it and implementing real change as a result. As we continue working towards bettering ourselves as a company, we are carefully evaluating our recruitment, training, management and giving practices, among others. We remain firmly committed to Baltimore and will continue our support of many diverse, grassroots programs – all of us must be part of the long-term solution that eradicates the sense of hopelessness and injustices that people of color face daily.

We are currently forming an advisory board that will be responsible for addressing the important issue of corporate social responsibility, of which social justice is a key component. Our goal is to create long-term, sustainable change that dramatically improves the quality of life for everyone around us. We are eager to include citizens of the Baltimore community on this advisory board. We want to meet with them, hear their thoughts, and understand how we can best implement change to improve the culture not only within our company, but the city at large.

We know this is just the beginning, and that there is much work to be done, but we are eager to continue to strive EVERY DAY to be better and to do better - not just through our words, but through our actions. While we have long strived to be a company of fairness and inclusion, we must, and will, do more.

This is our promise to you.