During lunchtime last week, Atlanta couple actress Ernestine Johnson and entrepreneur Jay Morrison left their corporate office in the Buckhead section of the city and walked two doors down to a popular restaurant chain on Lenox Road with a group of their colleagues. They were met with condescension and downright racism by the employees, the doorkeepers.
The host and manager refused to seat them because they arrived as a party of seven. Houston’s says they have a policy where they don’t seat parties of more than six – despite social media posts of other patrons dining without incidence as a party of seven.
When Johnson and Morrison asked if their party could be split, the responses were sarcastic and petty. The Houston employees, a maitre’d and a manager, suggested they leave the restaurant and return with a request a table for a smaller party. Huh!?!? What kind of games are they playing at Houston’s? The nerve.
What people don’t understand is it is the minority dollar that keeps these big corporations and businesses open. From restaurants, to department stores, to the #NBA and the #NFL! We spend 1.3 TRILLION dollars a year. It is OUR buying power that feeds their families and keeps their families rich! WE CAN NOT ALLOW ANY OF THEM TO TREAT US AS SECOND CLASS CITIZENS. You have to TEACH people how to TREAT you. We have the power. @HoustonsLenox Has now changed their statement 3 times. They are completely out of line. What @mrjaymorrison and I stand on is the truth, righteousness and we’ll happily be the voice to hold these company’s ACCOUNTABLE to their discriminative behavior. Somebody has to do it! Disrespect or discrimination of ANY kind won’t be TOLERATED. I will show you who holds the POWER. We are relentless. We do this work #ForThePeople for real. #HoustonsYouHaveAProblem #BoycottHoustons
Johnson shares during a recent interview with rolling out, “I asked to speak to a manager. I said, ‘Hi Meagan, I understand you don’t seat parties of seven but I’d like to get a table for four. She says, I saw you guys come in as seven.’ I asked, what difference it made if I came in as seven. I am now a party of four. She said they still wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Drum roll please. Here’s Meagan’s solution to her own ignorance. She tells them to “walk back out and walk back in and maybe we can seat you as a party of four.”
“At that point she took the conversation somewhere else. At that point, I felt completely disrespected and discriminated [against]. How they choose to treat their patrons is not OK.”
On Saturday, October 7, 2017, Johnson and Morrison were joined by entertainment mogul T.I., Tiny, and more than 100 other conscious Atlantans for a demonstration at both Buckhead locations. Houston’s parent company, Hillstone Restaurant Group have yet to comment or acknowledge their employees’ discrimination and behavior. They’ve released several conflicting statements to the media. The final narrative is an assault on the couples’ character.
A Houston’s chef joined his co-workers and offered no solution. When asked by Morrison why they couldn’t be seated or accommodated, his response” there wasn’t “anything specific.”
Morrison adds, “They treated us second class. It’s not just about Hillstone franchise or Houston’s. Our statement is way bigger. It’s about second class citizenship, when you treat a group in a society and don’t give them their fair share you give others in the same society; it’s the nature and climate in this country, the lack of respect for our people and our rights, the NFL and Donald Trump.”
When you type “Houston’s on Lenox Rd” on the Instagram search, you can really a get full sense of the outrage and the need for the demonstration. Text “Shut Down” to 69696.