A soon-to-be opened restaurant in Baltimore is being called racist because it posted a sign with one specific message: the restaurant has a dress code.
The Choptank, which alerted prospective customers that it will be “opening soon” on its website, posted a dress code listing some items that would be unacceptable to wear on its premises, including:
Excessively baggy clothing
Offensive, Vulgar, or Inappropriate Attire
Backwards or Sideways Hats
Work and Construction Boots
Sunglasses After Dark
One Twitter user who described themselves as a photojournalist tweeted, “Dress CODED sign at the new Choptank restaurant in Fells,” followed by another tweet with a picture of the sign and a link to a Washington Post article about the restaurant.
The restaurant tweeted back, “Being new to the Fells Point neighborhood, we simply implemented the dress code standard that is used by several other properties in the area including Barcocina, Bond Street Social Moby’s and The Horse You Came In On. Have a great day.”
Another Twitter user added, “This is racist as hell and I will never enter your restaurant & will actively warn others away from it, have a great day.” Another added, “Y’all coulda saved yourselves some time @The_Choptank and just posed a ‘No Black People’ sign.” A writer for ELLE magazine tweeted that the restaurant had a “blatantly discriminatory dress code.”
The Washington Post quoted Jassera Contreras, a host at Barcocina, saying, “We don’t really have a dress code. We’re casual fine dining but basically as long as you don’t come in in your pajamas, you’re okay. We’ve never kicked anyone out or anything.” The Post added, “At Bond Street, there is no dress code on weekdays, a woman answering the phones said, but after 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, it bans hats of all kinds, boots, hoodies, baggy or ripped jeans, military attire, athletic footwear and tank tops on men.”
A spokesperson for Atlas Restaurant Group, which owns The Choptank, told Fox News, “Our policy is no different than countless other bars in Fells Point, Federal Hill and many other bar/restaurants around Maryland including Seacrets and Tiki Lee’s both posted on their websites. There are also national properties such as Wynn Las Vegas (XS) that have similar dress codes in their entertainment venus. The most prominent African-American nightclub in Baltimore, Select Lounge has a stricter dress code as well. Baltimore City Public Schools has a similar dress code and language for their students.”
As The Baltimore Sun reported, Baltimore mayor Bernard Young came to the defense of Atlas Restaurant Group founder Alex Smith, noting that Smith and Atlas often donate to charitable projects such as Toys for Tots. Young stated, “I don’t care what it is that I’m doing, I can call them and they jump right on it … I think people probably read into this wrong. I can tell you for a fact there’s not a racist bone in that guy’s body. This guy will give you the clothes off his back to help people. If you go to any of their restaurants, like Ouzo Bay, there are black folk there.” Young pointed out that Smith invited a black musician to play at his wedding, adding, “If he was racist, do you think he would have a black artist play at his wedding?”