Following an internal investigation, Applebee’s has fired the manager, server and another employee who allegedly racially profiled and falsely accused two black women of leaving the Independence Mall restaurant without paying their bill.
The franchise has also decided to close the Independence Center location temporarily in an effort to rebound from what has become a now-viral embarrassment.
“We recognize the hurt and pain caused by the recent incident at an Applebee’s restaurant in Independence, Mo.,” an Applebee’s spokesperson told The Star in a written official statement.
“We very much regret this occurred and sincerely apologize to our guests and community. After an internal investigation and in-line with our values, the franchisee [sic] terminated the manager, server and another employee involved in the incident. We do not tolerate racism, bigotry or harassment of any nature, and we have taken additional steps to close the restaurant at this time in order for the team there to regroup, reflect, learn and grow from this.”
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On Feb. 9, Alexis Brison, from St. Louis, and her friend Asia Hardy stopped by the Applebee’s in the Independence Center shopping mall to eat. While there, the two were approached by an Independence police officer, mall security guard and an Applebee’s manager with accusations of “dining and dashing” the night before.
Brison filmed part of the interaction, in which the two women can be heard denying the allegations, accusing the restaurant of racial profiling and repeatedly saying “we have not been here.” Hardy can also be heard becoming increasingly emotional and distraught at the allegations.
The video, along with a description of the incident, was uploaded to Brison’s Facebook page on Feb. 10 and has since gone viral with more than 2.2 million views and 500,000 shares on social media.
“This is what black people have to deal with,” Brison can be heard saying in the video.
Originally in a written statement to the Star on Sunday Feb. 11, Applebee’s expressed regret over the incident, but said it found no evidence that the incident was racially motivated:
“Our team has been working throughout the weekend and will continue to work to determine what happened and what appropriate measures will be taken,” said Bill Georgas, CEO of Apple Central, LLC., Applebee’s local franchisee.
“We currently have no indications this was race related. We have a diverse workforce that is reflective of the community we serve. All are welcome at our restaurant, and will continue to be welcome.”
Restaurant staff and the police officer asked the women to pay their bill, leave and not come back. The women paid and left.
Brison wrote that she was offended at what she said was a racially biased false accusation — even more so after learning that it may have been based on a minimal description.
“After leaving, calls were made to the restaurant and the manager stated that our accuser remembered that there was a SKINNY girl and a girl who wore MAKEUP,” the woman wrote. “This is a clear example of RACIAL PROFILING that should not be stood for. Just because we are black does not mean we are all criminals and I will not be treated as such.”
Brison and Hardy’s attorney had no comments after learning of the restaurant’s firings and impending closing.