Flight restaurant investigating alleged racist practices after social media group shares experiences

Updated: Jun. 12, 2020 at 10:18 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Management of the popular restaurant Flight has launched an investigation into practices at their restaurant -- some former workers claiming “where” guests are seated at the restaurant is no accident.

WMC Action News 5 spoke to one young lady who says a simple question in a Facebook group of Memphis restaurant workers opened the flood gates about what some call a culture of racism.

On Thursday, Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar announced they have launched an investigation into alleged racist practices at their restaurant Friday night.

A simple post in the private group Service Industry Memphis on Facebook helped fuel the flames about the alleged racist culture at the fine dining restaurant.

“I had an interview set up with Flight but I hadn’t really heard much about it so I just decided to post in the group,” said Kaitlyn.

What came next were dozens of responses including allegations of an unwritten rule that black people were to be seated upstairs so they couldn’t be seen by the public through the windows and were to only work in the back of the house as cooks.

“It’s just absolutely disgusting to hear that they treat people this way," said Kaitlyn.

Friday night, the owner of Flight, Russ Graham, and a public relations spokesperson released identical statements saying in part:

“We have learned of accusations of discriminatory behavior at Flight. These accusations were posted online, and we are committed to determine their validity. We take all allegations of discriminatory behavior seriously and refuse to tolerate this behavior at our restaurant.To the extent that we learn that any of these accusations are true, these employees will be terminated immediately. To let you know how seriously we take the mere appearance of impropriety, we are going to conduct an investigation, and deal with any matters that violated the law or our internal standards. Flight will continue to serve this entire community to the best of our ability, and we hope you will trust us in the future.”

The statement did not address numerous allegations made about another restaurant within the Flight Restaurant Group.

WMC reached out to the Memphis Restaurant Association, which says they have heard some of the rumors as well: “The Memphis Restaurant Association denounces racism, inequality, hatred and violence.”

Graham says an investigation is also being launched into allegations about practices at Southern Social as well.

WMC also spoke with a six-year employee at Flight who left earlier this year. She said while it was a toxic culture at the restaurant at one time, that’s not the case now. She says new management brought in about three years ago made things significantly better.

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