Napa Valley restaurant apologizes to South African musician after racial profiling incident
A South African musician who said he was racially profiled by a manager at a Napa Valley restaurant last weekend has accepted an apology from the restaurant’s owner, the eatery said in a post on social media Wednesday.
Jonathan Butler, a Black Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who had two performances at the Charles Krug Winery’s Blue Note jazz club on Sunday, first spoke about the confrontation at the Goose & Gander restaurant in St. Helena in an Instagram video posted the same day of the performances.
In the video, Butler said he and a group had dinner at the restaurant between shows.
After the meal, he paid the bill and “took care of the waiter” butthe manager of the eatery followed Butler to his car and asked him whether he took “care of our server,” Butler said.
Butler, who believes he was racially profiled, called the encounter offensive and disturbing, and noted that it happened in an area known to bring in tourists from around the world. As of Wednesday afternoon, his video had garnered more than 18,000 views on Instagram.
“He showed so much lack of respect for me and all of us who ate the restaurant,” Butler said of the manager. “I don’t think he’ll do that to a white person, but he did it to me. He felt comfortable to come up to me to tell me that ‘I’m coming to find out if you took care of my server.’”
Goose & Gander initially responded with a written apology to Butler, which was posted on the restaurant’s Instagram page Monday. The manager involved in the incident was placed on temporary leave, and the restaurant was seeking sensitivity training from outside advisers for not only the manager involved but also the restaurant’s entire staff, the notice said.
“We will take other actions as appropriate but we want to send a clear message that we are moving quickly to address, learn from, and improve this situation,” the restaurant said in the post.
A second post from the restaurant Wednesday said owner Andy Florsheim spoke with Butler the day before, and that Butler had accepted the restaurant’s apology.
The conversation happened during a “heartfelt, 30-minute discussion about the situation and a path forward,” the post said.
Butler re-posted the message onto his Instagram Wednesday.
Neither Goose & Gander nor Butler responded to messages seeking an interview about the incident Wednesday.
Michael Rolph, the managing director of New Sincerity, a diversity, equity and inclusion consulting, training and coaching company that helps businesses create inclusive workplaces, said Butler’s handling of the encounter “blew me off my feet.”
“I saw an invitation to the organization, specifically to this manager on duty, to be courageous and move forward,” Rolph said of Butler’s video. “I saw him being rather clear about how his mistreatment was unacceptable and also make an appeal to his community on Instagram that if you see this, speak up and take action.”
Rolph added that he also liked Goose & Gander’s response to Butler’s video because it included concrete and measurable actions to show that the restaurant is listening to its community.
“It shows there’s a need and an opportunity (in Napa Valley) for these organizations to invest in education and training so that people can understand the personal work they need to do to grow,” Rolph said.
Comments on Goose & Gander’s Yelp page were temporarily turned off due to an influx of people posting reviews for the business, a note on the restaurant’s Yelp page said.
“I can’t go here anymore,” said one of the recent posts, left by someone identified as Nicole C. from the East Bay city of Dublin. “It’s imperative that ALL customers are treated with respect and dignity. Harassing Mr. Butler for a tip (that was left) and following him out left me disgusted.”
Butler, a two-time Grammy nominee, was the first artist of color to be played on South African radio and appear on national television, according to his personal website.
You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or email@example.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.