Three Applebee's employees accused of racially profiling two African-American diners at a Missouri mall have been fired and the restaurant has been temporarily closed after one of the customers posted a video of the incident on Facebook last week.
Asia Hardy and her friend, Alexis Brison, who is from St. Louis, were eating at the Independence restaurant Saturday when a police officer, a mall security guard and a manager confronted them, according to The Kansas City Star.
The two officers approached them about an incident that had happened the day before, in which two women allegedly left without paying for their food, reported KTLA sister station WDAF in Kansas City.
An Applebee's employee in the video can be heard positively identifying the two women. However, the women say the server’s description of the dine-and-dashers was vague, with few details other than skin color and body size.
“We have not been here!” a distraught Asia Hardy repeatedly tells the officer. “I’m a student. I live on campus. I have not been here, like, I’ve been on duty at Rockhurst University.”
“Is she normally this emotional?” the officer asks. “Wow. Does she normally talk like this?”
Brison tells the officer, “We’ve been shopping. We’re just trying to have a nice dinner. Can we just pay for our food? We haven’t done anything.”
The officer asks the women to put themselves in his shoes, saying he needed to ask them about the manager's allegations.
“You’re doing your job but the restaurant isn’t doing its job. Because if she’s positive that she’s seen us, we haven’t been in here,” Brison said.
The women ask if there are cameras to prove they aren’t the suspected thieves from the day before.
The officer tells them to “just relax.”
“This is too much of an accusation to call it nothing because we have not been here,” one woman said.
Brison posted footage of the confrontation to her Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, and it has since been viewed more than 3 million times.
In a statement released Monday evening, Applebee’s said the restaurant’s manager, a server and another employee involved in the incident have been fired after an internal investigation.
The franchise also said the Independence Center location is now temporarily closed “in order for the team there to regroup, reflect, learn and grow from this.”
Applebee’s said they are reaching out to apologize to the two women.
Bill Georgas, Applebee’s CEO, Apple Central, LLC, Applebee’s local franchise, released the following statement about the video and restaurant policies:
“At Applebee’s, we do not tolerate racism or bigotry of any nature. We regret any incident like this, because we want every guest experience to be positive. Our team has been working throughout the weekend and will continue to work to determine what happened and what appropriate measures will be taken. 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.”
Independence police said they had not received a police report on either the incident shown in the video or the dine-and-dash incident the day before.
The attorney for both women, Ryan Kaiser, said at this time they have no comment related to the incident.