A restaurant's dress code that bans everything from baggy clothes to stilettos has set off a viral social media response by some who say the policy is aimed at black diners.
This week, a photo of the policy hanging inside Kickback Jack's in Durham caught fire, appearing in Tweets, on Facebook and Yelp, the restaurant review site. Social media posts, some shared hundreds of times, call the policy racist and discriminatory and an effort to make black diners feel unwelcome.
The policy is in effect at 14 Kickback Jack's restaurants throughout North Carolina and Virginia, according to calls to other company restaurants, including Raleigh and Garner locations. The Durham location opened in February near Northgate Mall, replacing a decade-old Tripps that closed last year. The policy has been in effect since then.
As seen in a photo of the policy, the company says the rules exist "in order to maintain the integrity of our establishment for our guests and team," calling the dress code and behavior requirements "simple."
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Requests for comment from management at the Durham Kickback Jack's location were referred to the company's corporate office, Greensboro-based Battleground Restaurant Group, which owns Kickback Jack's and Tripps. Multiple requests for comment through email and phone calls were not returned.
A dress code isn't uncommon or illegal for private businesses, especially dance clubs.
But such a specific dress code is somewhat rare for a casual sports bar like Kickback Jack's.
The policy begins by requiring shirts and shoes, a policy typical of most businesses.
It also bans low hanging pants or shorts, plain white T-shirts or any other shirts extending past the mid-thigh, excessively baggy clothes, sleeveless undershirts and stilettos. Those requirements have prompted many to say the policy targets hip-hop style and African-Americans.
Backpacks, balloons and large parties are also prohibited, as well as negative attitudes or offensive language. A separate sign on the front door of the restaurant says the dress code will be enforced at the management's discretion.
Within the hundreds of comments on Facebook responding to the policy, many expressed anger and disappointment, cynicism at yet another example of what they perceived to be unnecessary divisions along racial lines.
"Should say 'no blacks' instead of beating around the bush," one commenter wrote. "Sounds like 'country club' restrictions to me," wrote another.
While most of the comments on social media were critical of the dress code, a few support it.
"Looks like common sense to me," one woman wrote. "Why is incivility and poor manners a race thing? I have seen many races with their pants under their butts."