Debate intensifies over Steak 48 restaurant’s new dress code and $ 100 minimum tabs
Steak 48, an upscale downtown steakhouse, has sparked debate after issuing dress code and minimum spending policies, fueling some accusations that they are directed against blacks.
The Phoenix-based restaurant, which said it spent $ 7.5 million to open on Broad and Spruce streets in September 2020, said in a statement that the minimum of $ 100 per person for food and beverages and list of 16 verboten fashion points had been implemented. “To ensure that every customer enjoys the total experience of food, service and atmosphere.”
The dress code was posted this week on its website for restaurants in Houston, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Chicago, and on signs near the door. The company said it wished to adhere to “the same standard dress code policy for dinner service at all of our gourmet properties.”
It was not clear if a potential client had been turned down. Through representatives, the company declined to say what inspired the policies.
Steak 48’s dress code is arguably the most self-explanatory among Philadelphia restaurants, where such signs are rare. Prohibited fashions include “sweatshirts or t-shirts with large images, screen printing or large logos, large print or lettering”, “bustier tops, corsets, headbands or tubes unless each not worn under a jacket at the waist “and” excessively frayed or torn clothing “.
The $ 100 minimum tabs, which covers food and drink but not the 18% minimum tip for groups of five or more, are in effect at Steak 48 restaurants in Philadelphia and Chicago.
As restaurants emerge from the pandemic, some have instituted automatic tips to help exhausted staff and are serving fixed-price menus to bolster their bottom line.
The comments flooded Facebook, Twitter and Instagram after photos of Steak 48’s dress code were shared. Some have accused the restaurant of racial profiling, while others have taken a more cheeky approach – even pointing out the “touch of Velveeta” in the mac and cheese.
Steak 48 was designed as a high-priced experience from day one. Executives told The Inquirer in September 2020 he was aiming for an average of $ 120 checks, in line with other high-end steakhouses in the city.
Party promoter Mike Jackson said he didn’t mind the $ 100 minimum because that’s what it costs to dine at similar establishments. He said the dress code was “a bit too much. If I go out for a nice dinner, I don’t dress like that. But I don’t judge anyone who does. They go out, they want to have a good time. I think of our friend Allen Iverson when he went out to eat; that’s how he dressed.
Chaka Fattah Jr., a marketing consultant, said he believes the dress code is “too detailed and will be unfairly enforced, disproportionately affecting minorities.” Non-black patrons of other popular restaurants are not turned down for wearing similar clothing, he said, adding that he would not return to dine at Steak 48.
“We know what it is,” said Carmena Ayo-Davies, a local publicist who believes the policies are targeting black patrons. “We need to know when we are not invited to the party. We’re not saying they’re racist, but it looks like this particular post is aimed at a certain group. “
Anthony Henderson, a famous fashion designer, said he found the policies offensive. “I also believe that since the death of George Floyd and the conviction of the cop, everyone will laugh at the black community. Every culture sees clothes differently. … We have to accept people for their individuality, regardless of their complexion or skin color.
A representative from the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association said the trade group is not commenting on how individuals run their operations. Steak 48 is not a member of PRLA.
Some see the value of the stated policy.
“They sell a lifestyle,” said publicist Quiana Montgomery. “They set the tone. They try to go their separate ways: “What makes me better than the Outback?” What makes me better than Ruth’s Chris? It’s not just the quality of the food, but when you walk into those doors we offer a certain lifestyle, so we want you to be dressed. … everyone is a certain way. Everyone has a certain look. I don’t take it personal. There is so much in this world that we take personally against our people, but from a PR standpoint, I think they try to be different.
David Alexander Jenkins, who hosted an event at Steak 48 earlier this year, said: “I think we need more restaurants to say, ‘Here are the rules’. I remember a time when, if you were a gentleman and poorly dressed in a restaurant, they provided you with an oversized jacket that had the restaurant logo stuck all over it, ”said
Jenkins said he found the $ 100 minimum “absurd. Most of the extremely wealthy people in this city tend to be slightly older and not eat as much. We are in a health conscious society so people will share a plate. It’s common in high-end establishments for people to split plates with their spouses [and] with their children. … It backfired on him. I think most of the people they wish they weren’t around and who fight and do inappropriate things also spend a lot of money.
Restaurant dress codes grabbed the headlines on May 22 when NBA legend Dominique Wilkins was fired from an Atlanta restaurant, Le Bilboquet, claiming his running was a problem. “In my many years around the world,” he tweeted, “I have eaten in some of the greatest restaurants in the world, but never felt prejudiced or turned away because of the color of my skin, until today in #atlanta in @LeBilboquetAtl #turnedawaybecauseimblack. “,
The restaurant initially responded in a statement that it was turned down for wearing designer casual wear and cited “constant complaints from our customers about other customers’ wardrobe choices.”
The restaurant later apologized and promised to institute training on diversity, equity and inclusion while working to enforce its dress code more fairly.
From the start, Steak 48 quickly became a popular destination for black restaurateurs, who chronicled their visits on Instagram and Twitter.
“It’s very trendy and in the black community people like to jump on things that are trending,” said Bryant “BY” Jennings, a professional boxer from Philadelphia with a huge number of fans online.
Jennings believes Steak 48 has attracted people who otherwise wouldn’t frequent high-end establishments. “When it’s high end, you have to act high end,” said Jennings, who didn’t see any racial overtones in Steak 48’s decision.
Jennings cited a video, shot in March 2021 and hosted on YouTube, of a brawl in a dining room between women as an example of misconduct. The women shown in the video appear to be wearing outfits that would violate the dress code.
“You could see the writing on the wall that they were going to do something down the line because they just opened up and … all of a sudden there [were] fights, dramas and all kinds of stuff, ”said Baba Taiye Renfrow of Montgomery County. “And it started to drive people away, including myself.”
Jennings, like other commentators, said he wanted the black community to support the city’s few black-owned destination restaurants, like Booker’s in West Philadelphia and South on North Broad Street. Two popular restaurants, Ms Tootsie’s on South Street, and KeVen Parker’s stand in Reading Terminal, closed in January after Parker’s death.
Jennings said Steak 48 was just trying to save his business by announcing rules. The display of a sign, he said, warns customers.