Boozy brunch clubstaurant Bagatelle is being sued for seating people by race and “look” — allegedly sending black diners to a so-called “Ghetto Station” in the back of the restaurant. The Post reported this week that employees at the Meatpacking District restaurant labeled minority patrons as “DNA” for “Do Not Accomodate,” while unattractive guests would be labeled “BO.” The unwanted diners would then be seated at a specific table, sometimes forced to sit two people to one chair, the suit alleges. Such behavior was intended to discourage those patrons from returning to the French restaurant, which is known for its celebrity visitors and party brunches.
The lawsuit comes from two employees who say that the restaurant has a history of discrimination, including against staff. Server Renato Barreto and ex-server David Kant say that French employees were given better tables and hours than non-French ones. They also allege that non-French employees were sexually harassed and mocked. The owners at Bagatelle, which has eight locations around the world, did not comment on the suit. (See update.)
It’s not the first time a big nightlife venue has been accused of racism. Some say things like door policies and dress codes have historically been used as codes to not let in people of color. (The topic was famously parodied in the movie Knocked Up.) The Post notes that black celebrities like Jamie Foxx, Serena Williams, and Beyonce have been welcomed at the restaurant, but Barreto says that most people of color were treated poorly. “When you see African-Americans walking through the front door, we knew where they would sit,” he tells the Post. “They would make them wait and wait and wait.”
Update: Bagatelle co-owner Remi Laba sends in this statement.
Bagatelle’s mission is to treat all of our patrons from around the world to the same unforgettable dining and entertainment experience. We do not seat patrons based on their race or tolerate discrimination on any basis. While we don’t comment on pending litigation, we intend to defend ourselves and look forward to clearing our name in this matter.