ATLANTA - Basketball Hall of Fame player Dominique Wilkins said a Buckhead restaurant denied him a table because of his race. The restaurant has since apologized to the NBA legend, saying the dispute stemmed from a misunderstanding over the establishment's dress code and it's working to make its policies less subjective so they're enforced equitably.
The former Hawks great and current broadcaster shared an image of Le Bilboquet, which is located in The Shops Buckhead, on Saturday, saying he had never felt prejudice at a restaurant until he went to there.
"In my many years in the world, I’ve eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world, but never have I felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin, until today," Wilkins said.
The restaurant deleted an initial post that provided details of its dress code and issued an apology to the NBA great:
"We want to apologize to Mr. Wilkins for his experience at our restaurant and also for any confusion our dress code may have caused. We in no way intended for him to feel unwanted, and welcome an open dialogue with him. Our upscale dining experience and our brand’s culture is made up of multiple elements, which include our music, our food and our patrons’ attire. We continue to strive to manifest our dining experience in a way that is exciting and most importantly, inclusive."
Wilkins said restaurant employees first told him there were no tables available before they said his clothes were inappropriate.
The Hall of Famer claimed he was wearing "designer casual pants."
"I would have been fine if they would have said just no tables," Wilkins said
The restaurant's website includes a section about its current dress code policy.
"Unfortunately in this world we still have people who deal with discrimination, which is a disease we haven't found the way to conquer yet," Wilkins said during the pre-game broadcast before Sunday's Hawks game on Bally Sports. "I'm very disappointed that a restaurant in Buckhead would treat anyone that way, but let alone myself who, you know, this city — this is my city, and to be treated that way, I was very, very disappointed."
Le Bilboquet's General Manager Mark Hoefer said he was not at the restaurant at the time of the incident, but he is personally upset with what happened.
"I hope I get a chance to extend the olive branch personally and speak to him in person whether as a diner or not," said Hoefer. "I absolutely hope he chooses to give us another shot and to host him and his family and show him how deeply we do care about him and how much we do respect him."
The restaurant said it is making several immediate changes to make its dress code policy less subjective. In a statement, Le Bilboquet said it is providing diversity, equity and inclusion training to employees as well as re-evaluating its dress code to eliminate ambiguities. To ensure policies are equitably enforced, the restaurant said staff will undergo communication training to appropriately convey policies to guests.
Wilkins later thanked people for supporting him on Saturday.
"Yup racism knows no boundaries man," Wilkins said in a reply to a tweet.
A member of the Hawks public relations team said Wilkins was still deciding whether or not to respond publicly to the restaurant's apology.
A statue of Wilkins stands outside State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Wilkins, also known as the "Human Highlight Film," leads the Hawks franchise in career points scored and games played.
Wilkins is an analyst for the Hawks broadcasts on Bally Sports Southeast and is in his 12th season as the Vice President of Basketball for the Atlanta Hawks.
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