el centro df

Yelp / Norry H.

DC Restaurant Changes ‘No Sneakers’ Policy After Being Accused of Racism

A woman alleges that a black man was denied entry because of the color of his skin
el centro df

Yelp / Norry H.

A Mexican restaurant and bar in Washington, DC, has eliminated its “no sneakers” policy after guests complained the rule was racially biased. In a report by The Washington Post, Brian Gordon claims he visited El Centro D.F. on 14th Street where he was denied entry because he was wearing sneakers — leather Converse high-tops — which was against the establishment’s dress code.

“They’re not like ratty, dirty sneakers,” he told The Washington Post. “They’re brand-new, they’re leather. They were clean, fresh, white. It’s not like I showed up in five-year-old Chucks.”

So Gordon, who is black, texted his friends who were already inside to let them know he wouldn’t be making it in for drinks. One of the message recipients, Yesha Callahan, looked over to the bar where she allegedly saw a group of white men wearing sneakers.

Photos posted to Callahan’s Twitter capture the evidence.

“Hey @ElCentroDF your 14th Street bouncer ‘John’ wouldn’t let a black guy in who was wearing sneakers but all these white dudes in sneakers were allowed in,” she captioned the post.

Others responded to the tweet claiming they’d experienced similar situations, and additional accounts are detailed on the business’s Yelp and Facebook pages.

About 10 minutes after Gordon was denied entry, Callahan's friend, who works as a bartender at El Centro D.F., helped him get inside. Callahan pointed out the “hypocrisy” of others wearing sneakers at the bar, thanked the bartender, and the group left.

Ayyaz Rashid, managing partner of Sandoval Restaurant Group, which operates El Centro D.F., has issued an apology via The Root. The bouncer who denied Gordon entry has reportedly been fired, and the restaurant has lifted its “no sneakers” policy.

Rashid’s statement reads: “The security in question has been relieved of his duties and will no longer be working at the venue. Furthermore, there will be no dress code applied anymore at all. Not to stop there, I am scheduling a training workshop for the rest of the team to make sure such incidents may never happen again.”

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This isn’t the only recent incident to have racial prejudice called into question. Just this year, a Texas restaurant came under fire for having a vintage neon sign of an African-American man labeled “Coon Chicken Inn,” and a Chick-fil-A cashier named two Asian customers “CHING” and “CHONG” on their receipts. All this and more make the need for reform in restaurant culture one of the top 20 lessons we learned about food in 2017.