‘I was immediately appalled’: Victims of racist incident at Naperville Buffalo Wild Wings speak out

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. — The group of people who said they were asked to switch tables because of the color of their skin at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville are speaking out.

Dozens of community leaders and activists joined a news conference Tuesday at St. John Church in Aurora, in support of a call for change in how Buffalo Wild Wings hires and trains its staff.

Justin Vahl was one of the six adults who came to the Buffalo Wild Wings on Oct. 26 to celebrate a child’s birthday. The group also included 12 children.

Vahl said he was appalled and astonished when the host asked him, “What race are you guys?”

Vahl said he responded with, “What does it matter?”

After the group was seated, they were asked to move because a regular customer didn’t want to sit near black people.

The group took their business elsewhere and the day after, one of the adults wrote about the experience on Facebook. Her post went viral with thousands of shares.

“The most difficult situation was explaining it because these kids need answers and I’m always that guy to give it to them. So how do we have this conversation? Marcus Reilly, who was also a part of that group, said.

For now, there is no plan to seek legal action.

Buffalo Wild Wings said several employees were fired after the incident, and the customer who asked for the group to be moved has been banned from the restaurant for life.

A spokesperson also said direct apologies were being extended to the families and that the restaurant is conducting sensitivity training.

But the families question why, in this day and age, staff wasn’t already trained.

A city council meeting was held Tuesday evening in Naperville where about 100 people attended. Several spoke up during public comment. Some city council members called the incident wrong and unacceptable, and some residents said they were upset about the whole thing.

A spokesperson with Buffalo Wild Wings released the following statement following the Tuesday’s news conference:

We believe that we can fully and positively address the requests that were made this morning.  We look forward to having a productive conversation with the guests.  We’ve reached out and are awaiting responses, so that we can establish an ongoing and open dialogue.

Gov. JB Pritzker and the mayor of Naperville have reached out to the group of customers involved. Pritzker said he was so incensed after he heard of the incident that he wanted to personally apologize to them.


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