Bar owner in hot water after firing black staffers for letting club get ‘too dark’

A South Carolina bar owner is facing accusations that he sacked his manager and other employees because they were attracting too many black patrons


The former manager of a South Carolina bar is crying foul after he said he was fired because the owner said the establishment had become “too dark,” meaning too many black people were patronizing the pub.

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The Moosehead Saloon in Columbia, S.C., is under fire after Josh Sutton said he suddenly lost his job in July after owner Matt Shmanske claimed there were too many clientele and employees of color, The State reports.  

“He said (the bouncers) were all trash and didn’t work,” Sutton said. “He was like, ‘You don’t have the people in the bar that I want in the bar.’ I told him I’m not going to fire anybody because of their skin color. You’re going to have to fire me if you want that done.”

Shmanske allegedly did just that and fired Sutton in order to change the make-up of the bar, Sutton said.

At the time, The State says, of the 12 to 15 bouncers, between eight to 10 them were black, and three of the seven bartenders were black.

With Sutton’s firing, employees were then required to reapply for their position. He reports that “at least two” of the black employees were asked back, and at least one reportedly turned down an offer to return.

“I don’t see any reason I would have been let go,” former head bouncer Marcus Hughes said.

“I wasn’t late. I did my job and made sure everything was done… There wasn’t any viable reason for Josh and everyone else to get fired.”

In another example of racism at Moosehead, Sutton said the bar owner also was disturbed by the amount of rap music being played in the bar.

A patron, Malcolm Bevel said he was discriminated against by a white bouncer who refused to let him in the bar because of a solid color tee-shirt. He said the bar rarely enforced a dress code and he saw a white man with a similar shirt, leave the bar.

“(I couldn’t enter because of) the color of my shirt but really it was the color of my skin,” he said. “My issue is not with the code but the equity of its application.”

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Since the accucations against Shmanske went viral, Moosehead’s Yelp and Facebook reviews took a dive.

“Well openly hating black people is not a good way to run a business,” one user wrote.

“The place had a smooth vibe and a nice mix of people. But the owner in his infinite wisdom decided to turn it into an exclusive, ‘We only want a certain kind of people here’ place…. This place is the worst.”

“I don’t want to a patron at a bar that purposefully turns away black people because of a ‘dress code’ but then lets in white people wearing the exact same thing,” another wrote.

Shmanske has not responded to the allegations against him yet.