CHICAGO (CBS) — Backlash is building after two kids’ basketball teams were asked to change tables at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville.
The reason is that the group said an employee told them a white customer did not want to sit next to black people.
The teams’ coaches and some parents spoke to CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot on Monday.
There were 12 children and six adults at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville a week ago Saturday after the children’s basketball game.
The problems they said they experienced all started with a question.
“He just came up and he said, ‘What race are you?’” said youth basketball coach Justin Vahl.
That’s what Vahl said a host at the restaurant asked him. The explanation?
“There was a customer that was there that was a regular, and that he was racist and he did not want to sit by black people,” Vahl said.
Vahl was with his players, their family members, and fellow coach Marcus Riley.
Vahl and Riley coach the Bolingbrook Junior Raiders and Flight Athletics teams. The kids with them were between the ages of five and 12.
Some had just finished two games and wanted to celebrate a teammate’s birthday at the Buffalo Wild Wings.
“It was tough,” Riley said. “Actually, the child’s birthday that it was, is my son’s best friend.”
The adults decided to leave. But then came the questions, from the kids.
“(A kid said), ‘Coach, are we getting kicked out? What did we do?’” Riley said. “I said: ‘You know what? We’re not getting kicked out. We’re choosing to spend our money elsewhere, because we’re not appreciated here.’”
Mary Vahl posted about what happened on Facebook, along with an image of the customer who wanted them to move. That man is now banned from all Buffalo Wild Wings sports bars for life.
“We needed some type of outlet to let people know that this is real and that this has happened,” Mary Vahl said.
“My 10 year-old, is still, as of right now, still talking about what happened and how wrong it is,” added Ashley Smith. “For him to know that someone is looking at his color and judging him from that, is ridiculous.”
Attorney Cannon Lambert Sr. represents the Vahls, Riley, and Smith.
“This is an opportunity for Buffalo Wild Wings to show that it is going to be a corporate citizen who is going to take the bull by the horns, and make sure that it does everything it can to put away racism,” Lambert said.
Buffalo Wild Wings said it will conduct sensitivity training at all of its sports bars in the Chicago area. After an internal investigation, two employees involved in the incident – a service manager and shift manager – have been fired.