Buffalo Wild Wings fires 2 managers after black diners asked to move seats

Customers at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville, Illinois, say they were mistreated at the restaurant  Oct. 26 because of the color of their skin.

Credit: Suzanne Baker

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Customers at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville, Illinois, say they were mistreated at the restaurant Oct. 26 because of the color of their skin.

Credit: Suzanne Baker

Credit: Suzanne Baker

Two managers of a Buffalo Wild Wings in Illinois have been fired after a patron said they asked her group, which included black diners, to move because another customer in the restaurant was racist.

A service manager and shift manager at the restaurant in Naperville, about 30 miles west of Chicago, were terminated after the company conducted “a thorough, internal investigation,” it said in a statement Monday in response to a Facebook post describing the episode.

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“We take this incident very seriously,” the statement read. “Buffalo Wild Wings values an inclusive environment and has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”

Mary Vahl was among the group of six adults and 12 children who went to the restaurant in Naperville on Oct. 26.

According to an account that Vahl wrote on Facebook, which has been shared and commented on thousands of times, her husband, Justin, had initially requested a table for 15.

But when he approached an employee for a table with three more seats, the worker asked, “What race are you guys?” and said that one of the restaurant’s “regular customers,” who was dining near the larger seating area, was “racist,” Vahl wrote.

"We knew right away who it was because the guy was staring at us the entire time and giving us looks as we were being seated."

“We knew right away who it was because the guy was staring at us the entire time and giving us looks as we were being seated,” she wrote. The group was made up of minorities, “mostly consisting of African-Americans,” she wrote.

After talking to the other customer, a manager approached Vahl’s group, which had already begun ordering drinks and appetizers at the table where they’d been seated, and said “these seats are reserved and we will have to move your group,” she wrote.

The group “politely” declined to relocate, she said.

Another manager then approached and said that another party of 18 had called, and that Vahl’s group would have to move, according to her account.

“In 2019, this type of behavior should not be accepted because of certain views,” she wrote. “If you don’t want to sit next to certain people in a public restaurant then you should probably eat dinner in the comfort of your own home.”

She said the families left and went to a nearby Hooters restaurant. Vahl thanked that restaurant in her Facebook post “for serving our group and the patrons of Hooters for not being close-minded people that would ruin the night of others.”

Reached by telephone Monday, Vahl declined to comment. Buffalo Wild Wings did not identify the managers who were fired or describe the episode.

Another member of the group, Marcus Riley, who is a children’s basketball coach, told CBS Chicago: “It’s 2019. We’re supposed to be past this.”

Riley could not be immediately reached for comment, but his mother, Debra Riley, said her son had called in tears that night. She said what had happened “hurt him to the core.”

“Now you have truly experienced racism,” she remembered telling him.