A pizza restaurant in North Carolina is defending itself from accusations of racism after a white customer was allegedly allowed to use a coupon that a black customer was not.
Military veteran Link Alexander claims he walked into a Pizza Inn restaurant in Rocky Mount last Monday and presented a coupon for a free buffet, per WRAL. A manager at the Pizza Inn then asked Alexander where he got the coupon — he said his supervisor gave it to him — before denying him the free meal because it did not appear to be signed by the correct manager or district manager.
Alexander didn’t press the issue. “To go through an interrogation just for a $7.99, $8.99 buffet?” Alexander said. “It just doesn’t make sense that I had to go through that,” he told WRAL.
Hours later, however, Alexander’s roommate, Rex Casey, entered the same location with the same coupon and claims a server allowed him to sit and partake in the deal.
Casey went over to double-check with the restaurant manager — with his hand covering the supposedly faulty signature — who reportedly said everything was fine. He then uncovered the signature portion, at which point he says the manager started to backtrack about accepting the coupon.
“I said, ‘I want to know why this coupon wasn’t accepted from my roommate, but it was accepted for me,’” said Casey in a Facebook video posted shortly after the incident. “He gave me some spiel about the signature not being legible; he said the signature on the coupon has to be his managers, or the [district manager’s] or something like that … There’s nothing on this coupon about any terms and conditions about the signature,” he said.
“I’m not going to say [the manager] is lying, but I am going to tell you I spoke to two different staff members at the Pizza Inn … and they both told me they were not aware of those policies, and that they did accept those coupons, and that they were not told to check the signature,” added Casey.
Pat Bailey, Associate Manager Pizza Inn, told Fox News she was the one Alexander presented the coupon to and neither she nor the other manager recognized the signature. Bailey said the coupon could be from another franchise and is not accepted at that Pizza Inn location.
Pizza Inn has since released a statement to Fox News saying they “did not accept [the coupon] from either guest,” despite Casey’s claims.
“It is common practice for individual restaurants to create promotions that are valid only at a specific location. 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. Both guests received the same level of service and response from on-site management.”
The owner of that particular Pizza Inn restaurant has since offered a free meal to Alexander, and added that he takes full responsibility for the management not being “on the same page” about the coupon procedure.
Alexander, meanwhile, told Fox News he is considering legal action. But until then, he’ll be going to “Domino’s or Pizza Hut” instead of the Pizza Inn, and added on Facebook that he would prefer for Pizza Inn staffers to undergo diversity training.
Additional reporting by Alexandra Deabler.