Racial profiling and violent altercations - 4 eateries under the spotlight

21 November 2018 - 13:10 By Ntokozo Miya
Starbucks made headlines when staff called the police on two men who asked to use the bathroom.
Starbucks made headlines when staff called the police on two men who asked to use the bathroom.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake

Adverts will have consumers believe that restaurants are a place for family fun and tasty meals. But that isn't always the case. This year, big brands have come under the spotlight for racist incidents, wage disputes and violent altercations.

Here are four brands that have grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Chipotle Mexican Grill 

Videos showing incidents of racism are guaranteed to get a reaction on social media, something that Masaud Ali was counting on last week.

According to the Daily Mail, Ali posted a video of an encounter with a manager at Chipotle Mexican Grill in Minnesota.

In the video, the manager, Dominique Moran, can be heard telling Ali to pay for his order before receiving his food.

She says: "Pay 'cos you've never had money when you come in here."

Many people believed that Moran's conduct was racial profiling and unleashed their fury on the establishment for employing a "racist".

On Friday, Chipotle reacted by firing Moran, despite her pleas that she was not racist. 

The plot thickened when older posts by Ali showed his tendency to dine and dash – a phenomenon where customers eat at restaurants and leave without paying the bill.

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that after becoming aware of Ali's old habit, Chipotle offered to rehire Moran. 


When they walked into a Philadelphia Starbucks and asked to use the bathroom, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were told it was reserved for paying customers. 

The pair explained that they were at the restaurant for a meeting and would not be staying long.

Starbucks staff called the police, who proceeded to arrest the two men "for no reason."

The public was outraged at what it perceived to be yet another incident of racial profiling.

This prompted Starbucks to change its bathroom policy to allow everyone to use their facilities. CEO Kevin Johnson later apologised to the men.

Debonairs Pizza

In October at a Debonairs Pizza franchise in Pretoria, it wasn't customers who were left with nothing to smile about, it was employees.

A video posted on social media showed workers, led by labour law activist Mpho Morolane, demanding their wages from business owner, Tony Caldeira.

The employees accused Caldeira of deducting money from their wages without their authorisation. Caldeira told TimesLIVE that the deductions were meant to cover the stock that he said was stolen by his staff.

The Debonairs Pizza head office intervened and the workers were paid what was owed to them shortly thereafter.

Rodizio Brazilian Restaurant

According to Fortune Moyo, on March 18 his boss and Rodizio Brazilian Restaurant owner, Joss da Costa, accused staff of stealing food, specifically oxtail.

When workers explained that it was actually leftover sauce and not chunks of oxtail that they had eaten, Da Costa was not convinced.

Moyo said: "He became angry and simply grabbed the kettle with boiling water and threw it on me."

Speaking to Radio 702 days after the incident, Da Costa said: "What happened to him was actually by mistake. I grabbed the kettle and I was breaking the kettle because they were abusing the sugar by using tons of sugar in their tea."

Police launched an investigation into the incident.