Several African-American women say staff at a Harlem eatery racially profiled and falsely accused them of dining and dashing, resulting in the suspension of at least one employee.
Tara Fitzgibbon visited the Angel of Harlem restaurant on Frederick Douglass Blvd. for the first time on Feb. 10. The restaurant was packed, so Fitzgibbon and her two friends walked over to the bar.
As they ordered drinks, a manager came up behind them and demanded to know how they were planning on paying.
“You were here last week, and ran up a tab and left,” the manager said aggressively, according to Fitzgibbon, who grew up in the Bronx and currently lives in New Rochelle, Westchester County.
Confused by the hostility, Fitzgibbon explained that this was her first time at the restaurant.
Fitzgibbon said the manager flipped out, snatched a menu from her hands, banged on the bar and accused her of lying. The manager yelled that he had video of Fitzgibbon dining and dashing at the restaurant a few days earlier, making the restaurant turn dead quiet.
“We were beyond embarrassed,” Fitzgibbon, 45, told the Daily News. “I felt dehumanized.”
The manager, who Fitzgibbon described as white or Hispanic, took out his phone and showed Fitzgibbon surveillance footage of an African-American woman who she said looked “nothing” like her.
As the manager kept accusing her of lying, Fitzgibbon said her friend, Tamara Young, exclaimed, “What, do all black people look alike to you?”
The manager subsequently yelled at Fitzgibbon and her friends to get out. As they walked out, the manager kept pushing Young, according to police reports that both women filed about the incident.
“They made us feel as if we were criminals,” Fitzgibbon said.
Fitzgibbon and Young said they are considering taking legal action against the eatery.
A third woman, who only gave her name as Kristina, alleged in a Yelp review that her Angel of Harlem visit, also on Feb. 10, turned into a nightmare after a female bartender tried to overcharge her.
When she confronted the bartender, Kristina said, the woman “belligerent” and accused her boyfriend of stealing alcohol.
“We were told that my partner had been stealing drinks from the counter and that is why we were charged extra,” Kristina, who lives in Harlem, wrote in the review. “If he had been stealing, why weren’t we kicked out then? This doesn’t make any sense.”
Kristina said she told the employee that she didn’t have any right to falsely accuse her boyfriend of a crime, at which point the server responded, “I’m from Europe, b—h.”
“Being from Europe should make no difference in the way patrons are treated or spoken to,” Kristina wrote. “It is eye-opening how establishments are treating locals in Harlem and what they allow their staff to get away with…I’ve never been treated this way in my own neighborhood. I will not be going back nor will I recommend this establishment to anyone again.”
Anahi Angelone, the owner of Angel of Harlem, refused to address specific allegations, but confirmed that a female bartender had been reprimanded and put on leave for a few days in light of the racial profiling accusations.
“It’s very sad that it went down the way it went down, but there are two sides to every story,” Angelone told The News on Monday.
Angelone declined to specify what she meant by “two sides,” repeatedly referring to the incidents as “unfortunate misunderstandings.”