What was supposed to be a nice girls' day out turned into a horrifying, racist incident.
Four Latina women went to Southern California's Saint Marc, an upscale eatery in Huntington Beach. Before ordering the restaurant's signature grilled cheese and other delicious items, the waiter asked for the girls' proof of residency. "I need to make sure you're from here," he said.
Though stunned, the women dutifully handed over their IDs, but soon realized this was much more than simply checking their ages. “I looked at my sister and [my friend], and I said, did he really just say that?” Diana Carrillo, one of the four Latinas said after realizing they were being racially discriminated against.
The group decided to leave the restaurant, despite being offered a different table to sit at and business cards from the manager. Later, Carrillo, 24, took to Facebook to share the incident, which quickly garnered much attention. "For a few seconds I thought maybe he was being a smart ass or joking but the fact that he said 'I need to make sure you're from here before I serve you' was completely unacceptable," she wrote. "How many others has he said this too? I hope this employee is reprimanded for his actions. No establishment should tolerate discriminatory actions from their employees." Carrillo made sure to share the restaurant's location. Her post now has upwards of 2K likes and 1,500 shares.
The restaurant quickly jumped at the opportunity to redeem themselves after seeing the uproar on social media. Management offered the women a lavish VIP experience, as well as the promise to donate 10% of the weekend's proceeds to a nonprofit organization of their choice. As expected, the women declined the meal but took up their donation offer for all money to be given to Orange County Immigration Youth United.
As for the waiter who caused this stir, the restaurant immediately fired him and commented on the incident. Kent Bearden, senior director of operations at the restaurant explained that this was a first for the employee, however his actions did not align with those of the company. "I don't know if he had an agenda or not," Bearden said. "I feel very proud of our team and how we tried to take a proactive approach, trying to create a positive out of this situation."
Carrillo opened up to The Washington Post about how her upbringing prepared her for a moment like this. She questioned whether the racism was a result of "who is President" and noted that her mother, an immigrant, was always worried about her children experiencing discrimination. "I know it's part of my life," Carrillo said.
Check out her Facebook post below: