An Atlanta restaurant issued a second, more extensive apology to Dominique Wilkins on Monday and promised it would provide “diversity, equity and inclusion training” for its employees while reevaluating its dress code. The basketball Hall of Famer and Atlanta Hawks icon had claimed on Saturday that he was the victim of racist mistreatment there, reports the Washington Post.
“In my many years in the world, I’ve eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world, but never have I felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin, until today,” Wilkins tweeted. He added the phrase “Turned away because I’m Black” as a hashtag, and included the name of Le Bilboquet, a restaurant in Atlanta’s popular Buckhead neighborhood, as well as a photo of its exterior seating.
“We sincerely apologize to Dominique Wilkins for the events that occurred on May 22,” Le Bilboquet said Monday. “No patron of our restaurants should be made to feel unwelcome or less than, and for that we are deeply sorry. It was never our intention to make Mr. Wilkins — or anyone else for that matter — feel that way at our restaurant.”
In the restaurant’s initial reaction Saturday evening (via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), it offered no apology but instead pointed to “consistent complaints from our patrons regarding other guest’s wardrobe choices.”
“As a result, to protect our restaurant’s culture, we installed a minimum standard in our ‘business casual attire dress code which includes jeans and sneakers but prohibits baseball caps and athletic clothing including sweatpants and tops,” Le Bilboquet said at the time. “Though the definition of ‘casual’ is ever-evolving, we strive to maintain our policy requirements daily but it isn’t a perfect system.”
Wilkins, 61, said on Twitter on Saturday that he was initially told the restaurant had no tables available before hearing that he was “not dressed fashionably enough.” His photo appeared to show several empty tables, and he said he checked ahead of time on whether he would need a reservation.
“I would have been fine if they said just no tables,” he tweeted. “But they looked me up and down before that and then said that and to add insult, talked about how my clothes were not appropriate.”
“Racism knows no boundaries,” Wilkins added.
Wilkins’ comments garnered a notable amount of concern online, in no small part because he is arguably second only to Hank Aaron as the greatest figure in Atlanta’s professional sports history. Nicknamed “The Human Highlight Reel” for his jaw-dropping dunks and other feats of athleticism, Wilkins played for the Hawks from 1982 to 1994 and is the franchise’s career leader in games played, points, points per game and value over replacement player.
In 2015, the Hawks installed a 13½-foot-tall, granite statue of Wilkins outside their Atlanta arena. He serves as their vice president of basketball and as a special adviser to their CEO, and he is an analyst on their game telecasts.
Wilkins’s tweets about the restaurant also drew attention to previous complaints by other would-be patrons that it inconsistently enforces a dress code in ways that could be construed as racist.