An Apology from Our CEO

The following is a statement by Kerbey Lane Cafe’s Chief Executive Officer, Mason Ayer:

On Sunday, December 6, two young female guests of Kerbey Lane Cafe on Guadalupe were insulted by another guest who told them that they should “go back to Saudi Arabia” among other rude and inappropriate comments. In an attempt to defuse the situation, the store leader seated the man who’d made the comments in another part of the restaurant.

One of the women who had been insulted announced to the dining room that she and her friend had been the targets of racist comments, and that nothing had been done in response because, “who cares about us?” In response, one diner shouted, “Nobody.” (Read this Austin Chronicle article for a full account of the incident).

The following is a statement by Kerbey Lane Cafe’s Chief Executive Officer, Mason Ayer:

I was deeply saddened when I learned of the upsetting events that occurred at our Guadalupe location on Sunday morning. There should be no place for racist, ignorant behavior in our society, and it’s incredibly upsetting that an incident like this occurred at all. When I learned of what happened, I called Ms. Abdennabi and expressed to her how very sorry I was that she and Ms. Al-Nahi were subjected to this abuse by another patron at Kerbey Lane Cafe. No human being deserves to be treated the way Ms. Abdennabi and Ms. Al-Nahi were treated by this person, who demonstrated that he has a small, bigoted view of the world.

I also regret how the situation was handled. It could and should have been handled better on our part. I’ve discussed the incident with the store leader who was on duty this morning, and she is also very upset and realizes that she should have handled the situation differently by asking the hateful guest to leave – or contacting the police if she felt it necessary – rather than attempting to defuse the situation by separating the parties in different sections of the restaurant.

I’m sorry the situation was not handled this way and that Ms. Abdennabi and Ms. Al-Nahi suffered as a result.

Ultimately, responsibility for what occurred rests with me. It is not the fault of our store leader that she doesn’t know how to handle a heated, hate-filled assault by one of our guests directed at another. It’s my fault. It’s my fault because she hasn’t been trained for this situation. All of our team members understand that racism and intolerance are unacceptable in any context, but as the leader of our organization it’s my responsibility to ensure that in a situation such as this one our store leaders know how to handle the situation in a way that best ensures the safety of our guests and team members while also ensuring an unwelcome patron is removed from the restaurant. All store leaders and team members, across all locations, will receive this training moving forward. While I hope another incident like this never occurs at one of our restaurants, it’s imperative that our store leaders know how to properly handle it.

In the end, while we welcome everyone at Kerbey Lane Cafe, there is no place for hatred and I’m so very sorry about what happened.