A tweet by NBA legend Dominique Wilkins saying an Atlanta restaurant discriminated against him Saturday was shared on social media thousands of times, and Le Bilboquet in Buckhead — which at first issued a statement about its dress code — has now apologized to him.
The Atlanta Hawks superstar and Basketball Hall of Famer 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 in #atlanta In @LeBilboquetAtl.” He ended the tweet with the hashtag #turnedawaybecauseimblack.
However, the incident appeared to possibly be a misunderstanding. A statement from the restaurant’s spokesperson on Saturday night focused on the dress code policy that is enforced.
“We, at Le Bilboquet, do our best to accommodate all of our guests. However, we have received consistent complaints from our patrons regarding other guest’s wardrobe choices,” the statement read. “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 afternoon, the restaurant posted an official statement online saying: “We want to apologize to Mr. Wilkins for his experience at our restaurant and also for any confusion our dress code may have caused. We in no way intended for him to feel unwanted, and welcome an open dialogue with him. Our upscale dining experience and our brand’s culture is made up of multiple elements, which include our music, our food and our patrons’ attire. We continue to strive to manifest our dining experience in a way that is exciting and most importantly, inclusive.”
The restaurant features a dress code on its website. The policy states: “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.”
Wilkins, in response to some of the feedback he was getting to his tweet, seemed to acknowledge the dress code situation and noted “... 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.”
Dress codes at restaurants in Atlanta and elsewhere have faced accusations of being arbitrarily enforced, with reports surfacing of similarly attired white and Black patrons being treated differently.
In a Baltimore incident that made national headlines last June, a restaurant issued a public apology after a video showed a Black woman and her son being denied service because of the boy’s clothes while a white child dressed a similar way had been served.
Wilkins, who played for the Hawks from 1982 to 1994, became the third player in Hawks history to have his uniform number retired, in 2001. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame five years later.