A North Carolina pizza restaurant has denied wrongdoing after two customers accused the assistant manager of racism, WRAL-TV reported.
A black customer said he tried to use a coupon for a free meal at Pizza Inn in Rocky Mount, but the manager told him it wasn't valid. His white roommate claimed he later took the same card to the same restaurant, and it was accepted.
The restaurant said there was no racism involved and that the employees were exercising caution against fraudulent coupons.
The black customer, Link Alexander, walked into the restaurant last week and handed the free buffet coupon to an employee.
The woman called the assistant manager over to look at the coupon.
"He looks at the card. He looks at me. He was like, 'So where did you get the card from?'" Alexander told WRAL. He said he explained that he received it from his supervisor at work.
At that point, the assistant manager said the coupon's signature didn't match his manager or district manager's names, and that it would not be accepted.
Alexander said he left the restaurant without eating.
A couple of hours later, Alexander's roommate, Rex Casey, who is white, told WRAL that he took the same coupon to the same restaurant.
He said he presented the free meal card to an employee who told him to help himself to the buffet.
Casey told the outlet that he asked to speak with the same assistant manager who allegedly denied Alexander's use of the coupon. He said he showed the assistant manager the card but kept the signature covered and then asked if the coupon would be accepted.
After being confronted on the alleged inconsistency, the assistant manager "immediately" began explaining that the signature isn't legible and the owners would not allow him to accept it, Casey told WRAL. Casey said he left the restaurant and posted a video about the encounter on Facebook.
What was written on the coupon?
"Present this card at any participating Pizza Inn location," the coupon read with a signature after the words "Presented by."
What did the restaurant say?
"This particular restaurant did not recognize the coupon that was presented and did not accept it from either guest. Our employees were exercising caution, as customers have attempted to use fraudulent cards in the past," the restaurant said in a statement.
Casey denied that he was refused use of the coupon because he had no problems with it until he showed the card to the assistant manager.
What did the owner say?
Steve Stancil, who owns the Pizza Inn, issued an apology on to Alexander on Facebook and invited him back for a free meal.
"We try to make our procedures clear on coupons but it does not always work," Stancil wrote. "I take full responsibility in that all our managers should be on the same page and obviously they were not."
Stancil also noted that he would have likely accepted the coupon.
"I believe if you look at our staff ... you would agree there is nothing racist about us," he continued.
Alexander told Stancil in a response that he "cannot see myself patronizing or recommending your establishment" until the restaurant changes its policies and provides diversity training to Pizza Inn's managers and staff.