Applebee's says it has fired three employees and temporarily closed its Independence Center mall restaurant after an alleged racial profiling incident there against two black women led to a Facebook video that went viral.
The woman who posted the video Saturday afternoon, Alexis Brison of St. Louis, claimed in her post that she and a friend were racially profiled when a manager, mall cop and Independence police officer approached them of eating and not paying at the restaurant the day before – a dine-and-dash.
In her post, Brison said she and her friend and had been shopping that day and stopped for a bite to eat. In the video, which started after the accusation had first been made and the women denied it, one of them could he heard saying, “This is my first time here. I'm from St. Louis.” Also, there was a comment, “This is what black people have to deal with.”
Several times, one of the women said, “We have not been here!”
The server who apparently claimed to recognize the women did not appear at the table in the video. Brison and her friend were asked to pay their bill and leave, which they readily agreed to do.
In a social media post Monday evening, Applebee's said it recognizes the “hurt and pain caused” by Saturday's incident.
“We very much regret this occurred and sincerely apologize to our guests and community,” the post continued. “After an internal investigation an in line with our values, the franchisee terminated the manager, server and another employee involved in the incident.
“We do not tolerate racism, bigotry or harassment of any nature, and we have taken additional steps to close the restaurant at this time in order for the team there to regroup, reflect, learn and grow from this. We are reaching out to the guests involved to apologize directly. We know rebuilding trust with those affected by the incident will take time, and we look forward to finding resolution in the coming days.”
In her Facebook post, Brison said she called the restaurant and manager after leaving and was told the accuser had remembered – besides skin color – a skinny girl and a girl who wore makeup, but no facial features or defining characteristics.
Brison's Facebook post and video and video had nearly 58,000 shares and more than 2.5 million views as of Monday evening.