An upscale restaurant in Atlanta has issued an apology after it denied service to basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins.
The controversy started on Saturday when Wilkins tweeted that he had been denied service at Le Bilboquet, an upscale French restaurant in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood.
"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 in #atlanta," Wilkins tweeted Saturday.
Wilkins, who spent 12 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks during his career, also included the hashtag #turnedawaybecauseimblack in his tweet.
In replies to followers on Twitter, Wilkins indicated that he was initially told by staff at the restaurant that there were no tables available. However, he said he was later told that he was not dressed to the restaurant's standards.
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 in #atlanta In @LeBilboquetAtl #turnedawaybecauseimblack pic.twitter.com/vh7zuyxH0K— Dominique Wilkins 🏀 (@DWilkins21) May 22, 2021
On the "Policies" section on its website, Le Bilboquet includes attire suggestions.
"Collared shirts are suggested for gentlemen. Casualwear including baseball caps, flip-flops, slides, excessively revealing clothing, cut-offs, sweat pants and athletic attire are considered too informal for the dining experience we provide at Le Bilboquet," the website reads.
On Twitter, Wilkins claimed that he was wearing "designer casual pants and a shirt" when he was denied a table.
That’s exactly what happened. I would have been fine if they said just no tables. 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 when I was wearing designer casual pants and a shirt— Dominique Wilkins 🏀 (@DWilkins21) May 23, 2021
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the restaurant issued a statement on Saturday saying that its dress code "protects our restaurant's culture."
"We have received consistent complaints from our patrons regarding other guest’s wardrobe choices,” the statement read according to the AJC. “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 sweat pants and tops. Though the definition of ‘casual’ is ever evolving, we strive to maintain our policy requirements daily but it isn’t a perfect system.”
However, on Sunday, the restaurant issued another statement, this time apologizing to Wilkins.
“We want to apologize to Mr. Wilkins for his experience at our restaurant and also for any confusion our dress code may have caused," the statement read, in part. "We in no way intended for him to feel unwanted, and welcome an open dialogue with him."
Earlier this month, WGCL-TV in Atlanta reported claims from restaurant-goers who felt that Le Bilboquet was not consistently enforcing its dress code, particularly along racial lines. Reviewers on Yelp have also claimed that the dress code has also been used to keep Black diners out of the restaurant.