Maggiano’s Little Italy apologizes after couple speaks on racial segregation

Several diners came forward sharing similar experiences once the story went viral

Image: maggianos.com
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Customers are accusing restaurant, Maggiano’s Little Italy of practicing segregation.

Several diners came forward sharing similar experiences of being segregated at the restaurant chain. The restaurant recently issued an apology and claimed a computer glitch is to blame, per The Shade Room.

“We understand that two-valued guests felt unwelcome when they dined at our Maggiano’s restaurant in Orlando on Sunday, February 28, and for that, we sincerely apologize,” said a restaurant spokesperson.

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“Our goal is to make every guest feel welcome and special and to provide them with an exceptional dining experience. We deeply regret that we did not provide this couple with an experience that meets our high hospitality standards. We hope they will give us another chance.”

Dorothy Moody and her husband were dining at a location in Orlando, Florida when they noticed they were seated in the back of the restaurant with other people of color. The couple also couldn’t help but notice all the diners in the front of the restaurant were white.

“It was clear that it was a separate section,” said Moody, who was at the restaurant to celebrate her husband’s birthday.

Once the company learned of the couple’s experience, they launched an investigation and claimed a computer seating chart contributed to the misstep.

“Our investigation revealed that we had a single large party of 30 African-American guests seated together in our restaurant that evening. six additional guests with that party arrived later and asked to be seated with the original party of 30,” said the spokesperson.

“While they were at separate tables – we couldn’t seat them all at one – they were all seated together in the same room at their request. When the couple arrived at our Orlando restaurant, our system suggested a table that was still occupied by guests, which prompted the reassignment of their new table.”

The restaurant said it is working to make sure the incident doesn’t happen again.

“We are having follow-up conversations with our management team to ensure future guests do not have this experience and are revisiting our rotation practices to ensure seating arrangements are not just computer generated but have a human touch,” the spokesperson said.

“We understand the perception of this night and want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

However, other diners of color who have had similar experiences with the Italian eatery started to come forward after seeing Moody’s viral Instagram post.

“At the time I thought, ‘Maybe I’m just thinking too deep,’” said Jamia McCambry, who visited a Springfield, Virginia location while on a date in October of 2020.

“When I saw (Moody’s post), then I thought maybe that is a blatant thing with (Maggiano’s). I wasn’t that surprised.”

Maggiano’s Little Italy Orlando location
Photo: Party Partners of Orlando

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Once the restaurant heard of this incident, they issued another statement.

“As a brand, we welcome all to the table and are on a journey to champion racial equality at every level of our organization,” said a spokesperson for Maggiano’s.

“We value diversity, equity and inclusion and have ongoing training programs with our teams from hourly teammates to the president and CEO with a focus on unconscious bias, hospitality and making every Guest feel special. We work hard to create a positive and inclusive environment by coaching our teams to respect each other and our guests and we quickly take corrective, disciplinary measures if or when needed.”

McCambry said she spoke out because she did not want Moody to feel alone.

“I didn’t want her to think that she was overreacting,” said McCambry. “I thought, wow, this is crazy because it happened to me too.”

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