A hostess at the location, Amira Donahue, shared on social media the details of a disturbing incident involving a suspected white customer who targeted two Black staffers. According to Donahue, the woman “stood in the middle of the restaurant and started screaming at me in front of all of the customers.”
She says the customer’s request for hot water turned into a scene right out of “The Birth of a Nation” (the racist 1915 film by director D.W. Griffith).
“But she asked for a server that wasn’t black and the manager complied and I do agree that was a bad decision at the moment but there was a better way that could have been handled,” Donahue said.
“The lady also made comments about me to another coworker saying that I am not family-friendly and that I should go work at a strip club instead of an Olive Garden,” Donahue said. “(She asked) am I even black, am I from here, am I from America, just like offhand comments like that and referring me to the ‘other one’. ”
Olive Garden has reportedly launched an investigation into the matter, as spokesman Hunter Robinson noted that the company does not tolerate discrimination of any type.
The Evansville NAACP says it has not received a formal complaint but it is also investigating.
“They have a very diverse staff and diverse clientele. I go there myself so we have to investigate those things,” said NAACP President Reverend Gerald Arnold.
As for Donahue, she said of the racially charged incident: “I would never expect it to be so apparent in public like it’s 2020, not 1920 and I feel like it should take more than social media to get a problem like this out there.”
According to reports, the manager involved in this incident no longer works the restaurant.