A Pizza Inn restaurant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, is accused of refusing to accept a coupon from a black customer, Link Alexander, but accepting the same coupon from Alexander’s white roommate, Rex Casey.
Alexander told WRAL that he showed the coupon for a free buffet to an employee who called her assistant manager:
He looks at the card. He looks at me. He was like, “So where did you get the card from?”
The coupon said: “Present this card at any participating Pizza Inn location.” The coupon also included a signed “Presented by” line.
Alexander said the assistant manager told him:
It has to be signed by my manager, or my [district manager], and this is neither one of their signatures.
A couple of hours later, Casey took the same card to the restaurant and was told to enjoy his free meal.
Casey said he asked to see the same assistant manager and but he initially covered the card’s signature:
He was like, “Oh yeah, that’s not problem, etc., etc.,” and while he was agreeing to it, I took my hand off the coupon. As soon as he saw it, he recognized it.
He immediately jumped into the same thing he told Link. “The issue is I can’t really read the signature. I can’t tell whose signature that is. I can’t make it out. I don’t think the owners would allow me to accept it.”
Pizza Inn issued a statement in response to the incident:
This particular restaurant did not recognize the coupon that was presented and did not accept it from either guest. Our employees were exercising caution, as customers have attempted to use fraudulent cards in the past.
Casey said he originally sat down with no questions asked.
Alexander added: “If we’re checking coupons, we’re checking everybody’s coupons at the door. If we’re doing it, then it needs to be fair across the board.”
Steve Stancil, the franchisee who owns the Pizza Inn, apologized to Alexander on Facebook and asked him to come back for a free meal:
We try to make our procedures clear on coupons but it does not always work. I take full responsibility in that all our managers should be on the same page and obviously they were not.
I believe if you look at our staff … you would agree there is nothing racist about us.
Alexander said he “cannot see myself patronizing or recommending your establishment” until the policies are changed and Pizza Inn employees receive diversity training.