It’s unusual to see a crowd of people toting signs and celebrating that a local restaurant has closed. The people outside the Dairy Queen in Zion, IL, had originally planned a protest urging people to boycott after the franchisee reportedly called at a customer and her children by a racial slur, but Dairy Queen pulled his franchise and the restaurant closed in the interim.
What happened? A customer went to her local Dairy Queen with her small children and returned to the order window to complain when some items in her order were wrong. The owner wouldn’t replace the items, but did give her a refund. And an earful.
“He called me and my children n—–s; he said I can go back to where I came from,” the customer recounted to the Washington Post.
“He took out his flip phone and he said he would take a picture and put it on Facebook because he wants to show the world what kind of n—— he has to deal with.” Then the owner closed the window and walked away, she said.
The customer was upset enough to call 9-1-1, and the owner confirmed her account to a police officer, saying that he was “fed up with black people,” according to the officer, and using the same slur repeatedly.
While being openly racist isn’t a crime, it can be bad for business, and the customer shared her experience on Facebook. Other customers and former employees have come forward since then, and they met this week to decide whether they might have a case against the franchise. Discrimination against employees is illegal, after all.
Dairy Queen corporate also saw her post, and the company issued its own apology and prompted one from the franchisee.
“I would like to sincerely and humbly apologize for my recent words and actions… I have let my family, friends, employees, our system and this community down with what I have done,” he said, notably not apologizing to the family he had insulted.
Instead of urging customers to boycott, the protest celebrated that Dairy Queen took a customer’s complaint about unacceptable treatment seriously. We contacted Dairy Queen to ask what will happen to the location’s employees, and will update this post when we find out.