NAPERVILLE, Ill. — Several employees at a popular chain restaurant in Naperville have been fired for their part in a racist incident that left a family feeling humiliated.
Workers at the Buffalo Wild Wings near west 75th Street and IL-59 were fired after a group of mostly African-American people said they were asked to change tables because of their skin color.
“I was disappointed. I was angry, and then I was just sad,” said Benny White, the only person of color on the Naperville City Council, after hearing about the incident.
“That a family could come here and be treated that way – it’s almost like you’re treated as less human," White said.
A group of six adults and twelve children intended to celebrate a child’s birthday at the chain, which is popular for its wings and TVs showing sports games, after the kids had played in a basketball tournament on October 26.
The parents described themselves and their kids as multi-racial. But in a widely-circulated Facebook post, one parent claimed a Buffalo Wild Wings host asked, “what race are you guys?”
After, they say the host told them to move to another table because one of the restaurant’s regular customers, “doesn’t want black people sitting near him.”
They say several managers tried to move the group, one even falsely claiming another party had reserved the table. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations. The families ended up leaving in disgust.
“A place of business, no one should be asking questions like that, it’s not pertinent, and it’s not even important . ‘What color are you?’ Absolutely not,” White said.
A Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson said in a written statement: “We take this alleged incident very seriously and are conducting a thorough, internal investigation. Buffalo Wild Wings values an inclusive environment and has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”
The incident had an impact beyond the restaurant's walls, sparking a conversation about race relations in Naperville generally. While it's routinely ranked among the best places to live and known as a welcoming place for families, Naperville residents said the incident is a "wake up call."
White says he plans on bringing up the issues faced by people of color in Naperville at the next council meeting.
“Things do happen. Don’t sweep it under the rug, address it head on. See what you can do to improve on and make your community even better,” White said. “We’re much more alike than we are different.”
Citing possible litigation, the families involved in the incident declined to speak about it on camera Monday. The NAACP of DuPage County is also looking into the incident.