‘Real Housewives’ star turned away at same Buckhead restaurant as Dominique Wilkins over dress code violation

Shamea Morton said this was the outfit she wore that Buckhead restaurant Le Bilboquet said broke its dress code. She said she saw white patrons also breaking code and felt she was being picked out in a discriminatory way. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Shamea Morton said this was the outfit she wore that Buckhead restaurant Le Bilboquet said broke its dress code. She said she saw white patrons also breaking code and felt she was being picked out in a discriminatory way. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

She wore a track suit in April and felt she was discriminated against as well.

Actress and host Shamea Morton, who makes regular appearances on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” said the French restaurant in Buckhead that turned away NBA legend Dominique Wilkins last month did the same to her a few weeks earlier over a dress-code violation.

Wilkins on May 22 Tweeted, “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,” referencing the Buckhead French restaurant Le Bilboquet. He later said “they looked me up and down .... and to add insult, talked about how my clothes were not appropriate when I was wearing designer casual pants and a shirt.”

The restaurant sent a formal apology to Wilkins that was also sent to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, noting: “No patron of our restaurants should be made to feel unwelcome or less than, and for that we are deeply sorry. It was never our intention to make Mr. Wilkins – or anyone else for that matter – feel that way at our restaurant.”

“While we will continue to have a dress code, we realize our current policy is subject to interpretation and can be unintentionally demeaning and divisive,” it read.

On April 8, six weeks before the Wilkins incident, Morton says she was turned away from the restaurant because she was wearing a track suit, which broke the dress-code policy.

“It’s a cute one,” she said in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It wasn’t like a jogging suit. I had capri pants and a jacket. I thought I looked cute.”

After she was turned away, she took a picture of the dress code.

The Le Bilboquet dress-code policy on April 8, 2021, as shot by Shamea Morton. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
The Le Bilboquet dress-code policy on April 8, 2021, as shot by Shamea Morton. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Morton then taped a 60-second exchange she had with the restaurant’s general manager Mark Hoefer where she asks him: “Does [the dress code] apply to only certain people?”

Hoefer said, “It’s not that it only applies to certain people.”

Morton: “OK. I’m looking at the Caucasian people like this gentleman right here has on sneakers.”

Hoefer: “We’ve never restricted sneakers.”

Morton: “OK. It says on your sign sneakers.”

Hoefer said no. In fact, the policy does not reference sneakers. But Morton does point out that it mentions “slides” and “flip-flops.”

Morton: “I see people with slides and flip-flops.”

Hoefer: “We’re talking, like, shallow shoes. You know, the things that people wear, like, totally to the beach, or big Nike emblem on them.”

Morton: “I’m looking at somebody with slides on.”

Hoefer: “Ma’am. Those are very nice dress sandals.”

Morton: “Those are very nice?”

Hoefer: “Those are very pretty.”

Morton: “So my track suit isn’t pretty?”

Hoefer: “Ma’am...”

Morton: “This is the third time this has happened to me at Le Bilboquet and I don’t know why I keep coming back here.”

She said that “when you’re there and experience that, they’re looking you up and down like you’re disgusting. I can’t put words to it. It’s such a bad feeling.”

A previous time, she recalled being rejected from the restaurant for wearing ripped jeans but she didn’t protest.

Morton said she called an attorney about the track suit incident after it happened, feeling that white patrons wearing slides were given favored status. He told her to wait to see if anything else happens before taking any action. Morton said she was out of the country during the Wilkins situation.

“My mind was blown this happened to Dominique,” she said.

She decided to publicize her experience now after hearing this had happened to other Black folks as well.

Morton, who does in-game hosting and reporting for Atlanta Hawks games, said in all her years in Atlanta, Le Bilboquet is the only restaurant she’s ever been turned away from because of what she wore.

The dress-code policy, which is available at the restaurant, is also on its website: “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 restaurant told the AJC it has taken the following actions after the Wilkins incident.

First, we will provide diversity, equity and inclusion training to all current employees and require it as part of our employee onboarding process moving forward.

Second, we are reevaluating our dress code and eliminating any ambiguities that may lead to misunderstandings.

Third, we are establishing more rigid protocols to ensure all policies, including our dress code, are consistently and equitably enforced by staff. This will include providing staff with communication training to make certain all messages to guests are clearly conveyed and appropriately delivered.

In response to Morton’s situation, the restaurant referred back to this statement.

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