True Kitchen + Kocktails owner stands by viral statement against ‘twerking’ in his Dallas restaurant
An incident captured on Sunday night at a downtown Dallas restaurant has gone viral on multiple social media platforms and filled in comments.
Owner Kevin Kelley addresses the guests in his dining room in a 52-second video that was filmed at True Kitchen + Kocktails at around 7.45 p.m. on Sunday and opened in August.
“I invested a lot of money in buying this building and developing this concept so that black people could have a nice place to go,” said Kelley, standing in the middle of his restaurant, surrounded by customers. Then he asks the DJ to stop the music. “But all that twerking and [expletive]Take it to Pryme, take it to Pink [two Dallas clubs]because we are a restaurant. “
Then Kelley, who is black, shared a message for anyone who wants to work in his house: “Get this [expletive] from my restaurant. “And for anyone who doesn’t like this news?” Go out because I don’t need your money. “
The tweet, which saw the video millions of times for the first time in less than a day, describes the incident as a “suicide in front of the camera in a restaurant”. Many seem to agree, but overall online reactions seem mixed.
On Monday morning Wes Williams, who owns BurgerIM in the West End, expressed his support for Kelley in a Facebook post. Many in the comments section on this post seem to repeat his opinion.
Owner Kevin Kelley (left) and General Manager Rico Spears at the True Kitchen + Kocktails restaurant in downtown Dallas.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
On Monday afternoon, Kelley discussed the incident in a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. He apologized to those who were offended by his “poor choice of words”. He described the incident as he saw it and said that the guests at three tables that evening stood on “furniture”, leaned on glass, and worked. In the statement, Kelley stands by his decision as “an indictment against the few who do not respect our restaurant”.
The customer Trice Jones and her sister had been in the restaurant for about an hour at the time of the incident, she said. Believing the music played a role, she notes that Lil Ronny’s song “Throw Dat A– in a Circle” was playing at the time of the incident. (The Dallas rapper noticed this himself.)
“They played club music,” says Jones. She says the music was loud and a lot of people were dancing so she thought she was encouraged. Jones describes Kelley’s speech as “dramatic,” and her first thought when everyone started recording was that someone was proposed.
“The fact that we have music in our restaurant doesn’t mean you can stand in our seats, lean on glass and twerk,” said Kelley when he was reached by phone on Monday afternoon. He said his first concern was the liability the situation was creating for the restaurant, adding that he politely asked the group to stop a few times before turning to the larger dining room. “This is a restaurant, we don’t have a dance floor and these were the only ladies who ever behaved like this. This is a situation of less than 1%, ”he said.
After reaching out to customers, Kelley let five or six of his patrons leave the restaurant. “They had no respect for us or the other customers, so it was necessary,” he said.
In retrospect, Kelley said he regretted using profanity. “But if that’s the only thing people get caught up in, consider guest behavior first,” he said. “We created a restaurant that serves the community. We created over 70 jobs during a pandemic. Ninety-nine percent of our guests are fantastic and we love them. We won’t ruin your experience because we have a few guests who want furniture and twerking. That’s not what we’re the restaurant for. “
Kelley was also concerned about the reactions to the video. “We understand that we cannot be the restaurant for everyone,” he said. “But now there are thousands of people across the country who understand the importance of the black community having a good concept in which to eat out. Those who are upset about the actions we have taken should look in the mirror and ask themselves if they would like guests to behave like this in their restaurant. “
The lounge area of the True Kitchen + Kocktails restaurant, which opened in downtown Dallas in August. Ben Torres / Special Contributor(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)