Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Racism in Saint Louis?

Have you ever been in a restaurant of an ethnicity or culture other than your own and had to wait 10-15 even 20 minutes until a server comes to you?  What about go into a restaurant where you are told that there are no available seats for you but when you look around the room you see many empty tables?  Or what about when you are told after you enter the restaurant that it is in fact closed, even though there are people around eating?  This is racism and is alive and well in Saint Louis.

About two Saturdays ago, my wife and were invited to a family dinner at a new-ish Korean restaurant.  This one was called Korean whatever.....   So, we had a big group of people, about 16, and we sat at a long table which they had already set up for us.  Now, 14 out of the 16 of us were there, waiting for the last two people and we waited, and waited and waited.  After our last two people came and sat down, we waited again.  I watched as people came in the door, sat down and within 1 minute (1 MINUTE!) they had food in front of them and drinks.  I looked around the room, looking for servers and there were 4 working in this very small restaurant.  But each one just walked past our table.  I wouldn't think anything of this, except that this was a Korean restaurant.

It stinks because I like Korean food.  But, Koreans in St. Louis are racist and tend to make Korean restaurants only for the Korean people, not other people.  It is the strangest thing because money is money.  If I had a place,  I'd open it for anyone with any kind of money.  But, it seemed that the Korean staff didn't want to deal with non Koreans.  (And yes, everyone else there was Asian-looking.  I don't mean to be rude, but it is the truth.)  I have another Korean racism story:

We went to another Korean restaurant on Olive.  We have been going to this location for about 6 or 7 times in just this year, so far.  We are not regulars but the owner does know us and recognize us.  So, one day, my wife and kids and I get there for a family meal, before the rest of our party.  There was going to be 12 people in total and we were only four at the time.  So, we walk in, seconds behind a young Asian couple.  A waitress immediately comes up to the young couple, asks something and then they say "two" and the two of the them are quickly whisked away to a seat.  The waitress then turns to my wife and I and asks how many.  We tell her that there will be 12 of us all together.  She looks around her, at empty tables and then back at us and tells us, directly to our face, "no room, sorry".  She smiles and walks away.  My wife and I look at each other, puzzled.  Yes, this waitress is deliberately turning us down, turning down 12 paying customers because she didn't want to seat us at the open tables!  As we wait longer, calling the rest of our party, we watch a small Asian family come in: mother, father and little girl.  They get seated immediately, and we still wait around.  We were really starting to bug the waitress to the point that she comes to me and says "sorry, no room" again and smiles.

My wife and I turn around and walk away.

What made this time fun, or funny, was that as we walked away, the owner saw us leaving and she ran out of from behind the kitchen door and ran after us, assuring us that they had room for all of our party.  As we came back into the restaurant, we told her that the waitress said that there was no room left and then she got yelled at, in what I assume was Korean.  The racist waitress ran over and started to get tables together for our party and it is there that as this waitress looked at me, glared at me, I smiled back.

While I will suggest that there are plenty of places around St. Louis that could be racist towards the customers, these are the only tow instances which I can remember in this past year.  I've actually walked into all sorts of restaurants in St. Louis and not had this type of racism towards me, but in Korean restaurants, it is the norm, it appears.

Have you ever had a similar instance in a restaurant in St. Louis? 

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