Officials from Olive Garden's corporate office said they are looking into local comedian Ricky Smith's claims that he was asked to leave the chain's Parma outpost after his party requested a new server Tuesday.
Smith posted the incident to his Twitter account, saying an African-American server told his party she "doesn't like serving blacks."
Just got asked to leave @olivegarden because we asked for a new server because our server said she doesn't like serving blacks...— Ricky Smith (@Rickonia) November 30, 2016
According to his Twitter recap, Smith and his party waited at the restaurant until police arrived. He says police told him the restaurant had a right to ask him to leave.
The Parma police was cool in handling the situation but told us it was in @olivegarden's right to ask us to leave the restaurant— Ricky Smith (@Rickonia) November 30, 2016
And it was a black waitress who said she doesn't like serving blacks.— Ricky Smith (@Rickonia) November 30, 2016
Asked the manager for a new waitress and she said our options were to have her as our waitress or leave— Ricky Smith (@Rickonia) November 30, 2016
An Olive Garden employee called 911 around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to recordings released from the Parma Police Department Wednesday afternoon.
In a call for service report, the report states one of the officers spoke with the Olive Garden manager who stated that the dispute began after a customer stated that the waitress who was serving the party made a comment about not liking to serve black people because they don't tip.
The group was denied their request to instead have a white waitress serve them, according to the recording.
The employee also told officials the group tried to buy alcohol for a minor.
Police said the restaurant's management asked to have to customers leave, and the party was very cooperative.
On Wednesday, the Olive Garden tweeted out a vice president was reaching out to Smith:
@Rickonia Thank you for responding to our DM. Our Executive Vice President of Operations is calling you now.— Olive Garden (@olivegarden) November 30, 2016
The restaurant released the following statement Wednesday:
Our number one goal is to create a welcoming environment for every one of our guests each day. We take these allegations seriously, and discrimination of any sort will not be tolerated in our restaurants.Olive Garden’s executive vice president of Operations has reached out to Mr. Smith to personally apologize and invite him back to our restaurant to make things right. The employees involved have been placed on leave pending the outcome of our investigation.
On Wednesday evening, Smith posted the following message on Facebook after his conversation with Olive Garden:
Listen to the full 911 recording below: