The Internet can serve swift justice for those who have been denied service. This happened Wednesday when two men in Salt Lake City, Utah were blatantly told they could not drink at Willie’s Lounge on Main Street just because they were Polynesian.
Here is a video that Falaniko lata Maea posted to his Facebook page shortly after the bartender informed him and his cousin Stephen Wily of the unique bar policy.
Mae told reporters; “I gave the bartender my ID and she looked up at me and said ‘I can’t serve Polynesians,” Maea said. “And I was like, ‘What? You can’t? So then I said, ‘You have got to be kidding me, why?’ So she didn’t say and then she looked at me and said ‘I could lose my job.'”
One Polynesian who should visit Willies and see if he gets denied service.
Other folks in the bar witnessed what happened and left with the men in a show of support. Later that support extended to Facebook where witnesses posted reactions on Willie’s Facebook page. (As of this posting it appears Willie’s Facebook page has been deleted. To top it off Bingo has also been canceled tonight.)
It kind of looks like a decent place- the type of bar that has a craft beer list, not some hard biker bar where you’d expect a dude that looks like a member of ZZ Top to say ‘We don’t server yer kind here!” All of which makes this super specific racism kind of jarring. Willie’s owner Geremy Cloyd was quick to “apologize” – however didn’t deny that he instructed his staff to deny service to “certain types of people.”
“Due to many issues we’ve had with certain groups of people we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. We don’t do this without just cause. We want our business to be a place where anyone can come and have drinks in a SAFE ENVIRONMENT. We do everything we can to make sure our CUSTOMERS and EMPLOYEES ARE SAFE.”
Cloyd later spoke with the local news and did not help his case with the social media outrage:
The internet took issue with that part where he said: “They are directed by me, any massive groups of people, and granted two is not a group but it is a judgment call, whether it will be Polynesians, jailbirds, or anybody that is shady looking, do not serve.”
So as you can imagine Willie’s Yelp review page is getting hammered today with reactions from customers and commenters.
Well some people are on the side of the bar:
Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney