Boycott closes Houston’s restaurant on Lenox Road after charges of discrimination

This weekend, Atlanta-based celebrities including rappers T.I. and Killer Mike, called for locals to protest Houston’s restaurant after accusations of discrimination.

On Oct. 6, Ernestine Johnson wrote in an Instagram post that she felt as if she and her party had been discriminated against when they arrived at the Houston’s on Lenox Road with a party of seven that was denied seating.

“We had a party of 7 and were told they do not seat more than 6. We said fine we will seat 4 and 3 at separate tables. They said we don’t split tables. I said we aren’t asking you to split tables we are separating ourselves and we are completely fine with different checks and different sections. They said no and still refused us! When asked why they had no sound reason. I felt completely disrespected at a business I have been patronizing for years! Has anyone else ever felt discriminated against at this business?” she wrote.

Johnson also posted several images of parties of seven seated together in the restaurant. In a video of the exchange, a Houston’s employee stated that the relationship had become too aggressive to serve the party.

On Saturday, the group organized an afternoon boycott of Houston’s that drew high-profile support. During the protest, Killer Mike posted the following statement:

“Houston’s is a restaurant that is supported by the black dollar in Atlanta and supported by the entertainment dollar especially. I just call on entertainers and other members of Atlanta who are for justice and right—black or white—and black Atlanta in particular. Not only boycott Houston’s, but find a black restaurant to support or one that treats your community well. Me personally, I haven’t been to Houston’s in three or four years.”

T.I. posted to social media from the scene of the protest:

As T.I. noted, the restaurant closed on Saturday in anticipation of the protest.

Houston’s responded to the charges in an Instagram post that has since been deleted saying the company has employed a diverse staff to serve Atlanta’s diverse clientele.

“Charges of discrimination are not only unfounded but are an intentional manipulation using social media,” the statement read.

It also said the Atlanta location had recently instituted a policy prohibiting large parties of seven or more from splitting into separate groups at different tables, “which means that larger groups may not be able to dine with us at certain times.”

Reader Comments 0

117 comments
Jeffrey Rotty Prag
Jeffrey Rotty Prag

To listen to TI a guy who tried to buy machine guns from the FBI would be senseless

Lillijack
Lillijack

I am a black woman of a certain age who is embarrassed by the way some of these "got money but don't know how to act" black people are these days.  Along with your new found money, get some manners.  I've been in many public places that I left because of how you fools act.  I am with those that will go to Houston's now that you all are not there.

Atlanta_Guy
Atlanta_Guy

Then ma'am you are part of the problem...and that's sad.

Mz Chili
Mz Chili

Everyone has the right to stand up for what they believe in. If you don't care then don't comment. What if you were unfairly targeted and beaten while those same people that you mentioned were passing witnesses to your beat down? Should they interfere to help possibly save your life or should they keep going because it does not directly effect them at that particular time? "Black Woman" of a certain age you gotta know when to pick your battles and it should NOT come from within. You too have a number and it's going to come up in some shape or form.

M H
M H

Your not black.

Tryin to think logically
Tryin to think logically

Here's what I don't get. They said they had dined there many times before. Many other African Americans dine there all the time. So are they racist and was it discrimination, or just bad behavior which could have happened to anyone? I would think if it was a race or discrimination issue they would have stopped going there long ago. Just seeing some things that don't seem to add up.

0.212544437631
0.212544437631

@Tryin to think logically Trying to think logically.. You are asking a question based on logic. Unfortunately, logic and racism will never co-exist as racism is an illogical behavior.

Babycat
Babycat

TI is a washed up wannabe felon trying to make himself relevant again at the expense of the many employees at this restaurant trying to make a living.  If you act Ghetto you will be treated like Ghetto. Please start going to Stonecrest.

quickdigits
quickdigits

Does Houston's allow smoking? If not, I won't go there, and I have Plenty of money to spend at restaurants. Sick and tired of restaurants that don't allow smoking.

quickdigits
quickdigits

@Infraredguy @quickdigits You have your choice of Any restaurant you want to go to....99% of restaurants don't allow smoking, ok? As for me, I either put up with that, or seek out the 1% that do......

Hoosier Fan
Hoosier Fan

I wonder how many cooks/busboys/servers/bartenders of color are looking for work today thanks to this protest.

Fre Ma
Fre Ma

try not to act as if you truly care!

betterday
betterday

Black Supremacist Movement, cultural hypocrisy.  *sigh*

BDCoole
BDCoole

Tempest in a T. I Pot. That has been is craving any attention he can get. People in Puetro RICO can't get a glass of water and you're complaining?

Ann Stolden
Ann Stolden

Man go to bed TI not the only one why you stuck on TI jealous yes you are bless your Heart

GodBlessAmerica1881
GodBlessAmerica1881

If you think TI is the one leading this boycott, you are sadly mistaken.  He and many others in the entertainment industry joined to support the real estate mogul, Jay Morrison.  Ms. Johnson was in the party who was denied service, as she is the girlfriend of Mr. Morrison.


If you were being denied service, wouldn't you want to know why?  Have you ever been denied service?  I have, as a black woman, asking when did Waffle House have a policy of being "closed?"  Have you ever said to yourself, why am I being denied?  What did I do?  Then, you wake up and realize there is really no good reason.  Maybe, you can't empathize because you've never experienced it?

TheMunn
TheMunn

When will you ever stop whining???????????????????

ptcrunner
ptcrunner

...never understood the attraction to this over-priced eatery, but it's tough to know exactly what went down that night. Maybe TI and Killer Mike do not have all the info.? 

ZippyMorocco
ZippyMorocco

Beyond bizarre continues. What cause does this serve? The unsubstantiated story of a woman creates this? How stupid are you?

MiltonD
MiltonD

Why do African Americans look up to convicted felons like TI?  Your argument loses all credibility when your spokesperson is a felon.

Greg Pope
Greg Pope

If white people are wronged who do they have to stand up for them? The KKK which are full of felons. These include but not limited to murderers, rapists, child molesters, and thieves.

Fre Ma
Fre Ma

you simply are not paying attention!

Ann Stolden
Ann Stolden

Shut up you just mad because TI got it and you don’t god said don’t judge and that what you doing so bye boy /girl one love me some TI

Baron58
Baron58

Sounds like you don't care what caused the problem. Treat me with respect, no matter what, or I'm going teach you a hard lesson.


I want peace brother!

exatt
exatt

@Baron58  I too know how to teach,,,,,,,and m not your brother

NAACP_voice
NAACP_voice

This goes to show everyone: the African-American dollar goes a long way.

Let this be a hard lesson for any other racist restaurant/establishment, we will close your business if not treated fairly.

mamanelle5
mamanelle5

@NAACP_voice What good is this going to do, especially your statement "we will close your business if not treated fairly"  Ridiculous!!!!!!

Baron58
Baron58

25 years ago, I had 4 drinks while waiting 90 minutes for a table. I passed the manager in the bathroom. When I got back to my seat, I was informed that I would not be getting a table or another drink. I was pissed, but it was their house. I wasn't behaving in a manor that they expected...in their house. I didn't go back for a while, but when I did, I acted appropriately and everything was fine.


We are getting into a deep hole in this country. Let's all start paying attention to how we are acting, first. If we are minding our manners and then we are mistreated, we can talk about, maybe, it was because of the color of our skin.

Greg Pope
Greg Pope

Why would you go back to a place who treated you that way?

tailhook2591
tailhook2591

Another example of poor black behavior and obnoxious attitude. In my book, black skin is no problem...it is their culture of entitlement that causes problems. Oh, and street riots and looting when they get bent out off shape over something.

Fre Ma
Fre Ma

try again. it is ALWAYS and ONLY skin deep.

quickdigits
quickdigits

@tailhook2591 Yes, and they Do tend to get a bit "Loud" when gathered together. This, in turn, tends to disturb those of us who are of the "Quieter" persuasion.

Greg Pope
Greg Pope

White skin riots are ten times worse. If whites get together to riot somebody is going to die or at least get beaten.

Maymo30327
Maymo30327

I've dined at Houston's for decades. They do not descriminate against anyone or anything but rowdy behavior and this is a prime example of such. The Real Estate guy said at the end of the video "you should handle yourself better." Well that is exactly what he and Queenie should have done!  Who would want to seat you people after all that bad behavior? What restaurant would want to put up with that attitude for another hour or two?  REALLY!  Grow up behave in a civil manner. 

Greg Pope
Greg Pope

What makes you think any bad behavior was involved?

GA Girl
GA Girl

Houston's was incredibly popular from the late 80s until about 5 years ago. At one point they had 5-6 locations in the metro. Normal waiting time from 5pm on and all day on weekends was at least an hour and they didn't take reservations. The original premise behind the restaurant was a fine dining experience but as the establishment gained popularity large parties would dine and hang out for hours without continuing to order food. They also tended to be loud and disruptive to other guests just trying to have a nice meal. My neighbor, who was a corporate employee at the time, told me that they closed 3 of the more suburban locations because they weren't making money. People who wanted to just dine quit coming because of the long wait times and the parties that lingered were not ordering food or even drinks once the meal was over. Large parties were also not adequately tipping the wait staff. The woman in this recent situation seemed to be very aggressive so why would management subject the staff to her attitude? Any establishment has the right to turn away patrons they feel create a disruption to their staff and other guests. If someone doesn't want your business be it a restaurant or retailer, by all means why would you fight to get in? If you aren't happy with the treatment you receive leave and call the corporate office. Being agressive and protesting only highlights that you are a trouble maker. Boycotting to shut the restaurant down only causes people to lose their jobs. If companies don't treat people right it will ultimately catch up with them. As far as the black $, to a business profitability is colorblind and that's what this is about!

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

@GA Girl  Your comments make sense but remember, the Ghetto Crowd wants things to fit their lifestyle and if they don't its the " Racism crutch " they lean on. I like Houstons but it's mostly in Atlanta a place I do not frequent any more than absolutely necessary    

GA Girl
GA Girl

@infraredguy, I am an Atlanta native, grew up in Buckhead but moved to the burbs with my parents. Going to Lenox and Phipps at the holidays use to be a family tradition, even once I had my own family. Now I stay away. I think violence at Lenox mall was a weekly occurance last Nov-Jan 1. I sometimes feel the tide has turned the other way with regard to discrimination. I also believe many people have been incredibly disenfranchised and subjected to intense bias because of their skin color but polarizing people through aggressive measures isn't the answer. It troubles me how the hatred has divided our beautiful city.

Allyn84
Allyn84

@Infraredguyyou must be part of those populations that the Cobb Braves target. Trust me. I won't ever step foot in Cobb Stadium and I hope the Braves lose every game b/c of YOU people.  You stay out there in racist Cobb and I'll stay inside the perimeter. Have a good day partner. 

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

@Allyn84 @Infraredguy  FYI Boy, I don't live in Cobb but I have been robbed in Atlanta, fool me once shame on you fool me twice, shame on me.

Fre Ma
Fre Ma

was she that way when she came in or only after they responded with the b.s.???