Blacks — but not whites — had to pay before eating at this Denny’s


Employees at a Federal Way Denny’s are no longer employed at the restaurant after the chain investigated an allegedly racist incident that occurred there on Wednesday.

Facebook user Palmer Pellham posted on Thursday about the incident witnessed by he and his wife.

The previous evening at about 10 p.m., he and his wife Esther, who are apparently white, were at nearly empty restaurant for a meal.

“There was only one other table occupied when we arrived,” Pellham wrote. “We were seated immediately. A few minutes after we sat down four young African American men walk in to eat. They have to wait about 10 minutes, even though the restaurant is empty, to be seated.”

Two white men who came in after the black customers were also seated immediately, he wrote.

But then things turned more blatant.

After a waitress took the young men’s orders, she quickly returned to their table.

“She then asks for them to pay before the cook will prepare their food,” Pellham said. “She says that she has had several people order food and leave without paying so her manager said she had to have them pay first.”

The young men asked to see the manager.

“The young men did not make a scene or disrupt other people,” Pellham said. “They were complaining a little bit but quietly.”

Pellham and his wife decided they’d had enough.

“At this point my wife and I have lost our appetites, drop our forks, and tell the server we are leaving and want to pay,” he wrote.

Pellham told the waitress that the couple didn’t like the way the restaurant was treating its black customers.

“She said she had several people dine and dash and she had to do it,” Pellham said. “I told her that being racist was not the way to deal with that situation. She began to argue with me and asked how should she deal with it. I told her to call the police and that if someone doesn't pay their bill that #Denny's should cover the loss. Her manager finally turned around and told her not to talk to me. I finished paying and said that I was never going to Denny's again. They young men thanked us as we left.”

The post was widely shared, with over 19,000 reactions and 7,800 comments.

Denny’s responded Saturday morning on its Facebook page.

“We are deeply disappointed and outraged by the situation that took place at our independently-owned franchise restaurant in Federal Way, Washington,” the company said. “Denny’s has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. This type of behavior is unacceptable for any reason and is clearly inconsistent with our practices and policies. After a swift investigation, the employees involved in this incident are no longer employed by our franchisee and no longer a part of the Denny’s system.”

“Keep standing up when you see injustice,” Pellham wrote.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor