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.”