Applebee’s is temporarily shutting down a Missouri location after staff harangued two totally innocent black customers who a server claimed had dined and dashed the night before. Alexis Brison says that she and a friend were shopping at a mall in Independence on Saturday, got hungry, and stopped at the ground-floor Applebee’s for lunch.
An hour in, Brison explains that the location’s manager appeared — flanked by a police officer, a mall cop, and a random server. They started insisting that the women didn’t pay for chicken that they’d ordered for dinner the night before. Pressed for details, the manager explained that the server — who had presumably worked the previous day — just remembered that one girl had been “skinny” and the other “wore makeup,” apparently making these two customers culprits.
“In 2018 is this really what we’re debased to? Our weight and whether or not we wore makeup,” Brison wrote in a Facebook post, where she also posted a video of the incident. It appears to include the majority of their tableside interrogation, and lasts for nine minutes:
Several times in the video, you can hear one of them say, “This is what black people have to deal with.” The officer comes off somewhere between neutral and uncomfortable, but probably doesn’t help the situation when Brison’s friend starts crying and he goes, “Wow. Does she always act like this?” Eventually, they’re told to pay and “not come back” to that Applebee’s — at which point, Brison muses aloud, “Ooh, whoa, this is going on the internet. This is gonna go viral. This is racially profiling.”
As it happens, that prediction was correct: Almost 3 million people have seen her Facebook post, which she ends by declaring, “Just because we are black does not mean we are all criminals and I will not be treated as such.”
To its credit, Applebee’s corporate acted swiftly. The franchisee fired the manager, the server who wrongly accused them, and a third employee nebulously “involved in the incident.” The chain also apologized on Twitter, in a statement that noted that the location would be closing temporarily to “regroup, reflect, learn, and grow from this.”