Survey: Waiters At Large Chains Give Poor Service To Blacks

Black customers who frequently eat out are likely to experience discrimination at some point over the course of a month, according to a study published in the Journal of Black Studies. Sociologists from Wayne State University and North Carolina University surveyed 200 waiters at large chain restaurants, 87 percent of whom are white. Many of those surveyed looked down on black customers, reports the Washington Examiner (which also curiously has a photo of Ben’s Chili Bowl accompanying the story about large chain restaurants).

Do you think discrimination is a problem in D.C.’s restaurants?

Key findings: When asked who tipped best, whites topped blacks, according to the servers. Also, whites were described as better customers than blacks, who typically were called “picky,” “demanding,” and “rude.” In addition, the servers–all from unidentified large chain restaurants–said that they “sometimes” heard coworkers make racist remarks 46 percent of the time. And 54 percent said they “sometimes” saw their coworkers providing inferior service to racial minorities.

Considering their treatment, said the authors, poor tips are deserved. “If servers provide inferior service to blacks, it should not be surprising that blacks tip them less.”

Read more at:

  • Pepperminta

    The victims are not always the non white population. I am a bit tired of reading how this non-white population is discriminated, or how that non-white population is taken advantafe of. I do believe that there are rude people in any group and it has to do more with education than anything. If waiters noticed black customers to be rude or picky most of the time it speaks of several other factors that make people from that population being rude not necessarily the color of their skin or ethnic background. Sometimes customers are real bullies and feel powerful for once, mistreating someone that is only doing his/her job serving them. This is rationalizing the behaviour a bit and sounds like I could excuse it but my main point is that rudeness is not skin color based.

  • Shana Berry

    I am black, but have many white friends so I’ve experienced the differences in treatment depending on who I’m with. Compared to other cities I’ve lived in/or visited, I’ve had far less overt discrimination at restaurants in DC.  For example, I have never been refused service at a restaurant in DC. In comparison, that has happened to me several times in  PA, VA, DE, and MD in everything from fine dining places to Waffle Houses. I know, it’s somewhat my fault for even going to a Waffle House. I have also never watched my server inexplicably ignore me to wait on later-arriving white patrons before me in DC.  Or claim that I miscounted and owe more money. All of these have happened to me in other places.  An exception, is Austin Grill in downtown. I’ve never had a problem at the one in Alexandria. But I once  had a (white) waitress here tell the (black) host to “seat them in the back (pause for disgusted look at us) the waaaay back.” He apologized profusely to us while taking us past tables empty tables in the front with a smattering a white couples to a cramped area I’d never seen before next to the kitchen…filled with only blacks and latinos. I haven’t been back since.

    Worker discrimination is endemic in the restaurant industry, so it’s no
    surprise that this racism (and sexism) spills over to how customers are
    treated. As an
    example, the Restaurant Opportunities Center’s research on the US
    restaurant industry found that “Occupational segregation and
    discrimination on the basis of race and gender has resulted in people of
    and women of color in particular, being concentrated in the industry’s
    lowest-paid positions”

    I worked in restaurants and coffee shops in my college years, so I feel pretty confident saying that I am never rude to servers.  I think the difference in DC is the fact that there is a significant brown middle/upper class and people of color in positions of power.  So as a server in DC, you might not necessarily assume that you can crap all over a brown person and not make a problem for your restaurant.  So maybe classism is more of the issue in DC restaurants?

  • Elijah405

    I would hope that that goes without saying. At least it would for someone with a shred of intelligence.

  • Stacy007

    I can honestly say as a former waitress at a popular chain resturant this stereotype exists for a reason. I had always been known as a great waitress especially customer service wise and DID NOT ever treat an African American table different than a white table. however, in my 6 months of working there I would say 95% of the time I was tipped 10% or lower. This wouldn’t bother me as much but they were often more demanding, rude, and on occasion completely out of line.

  • Timmy

    I hate to break it to most of you but, yeah, this is a truism across the
    board and across the country. Scream racism all you want. I have been
    in this business on and off for the last 18 years. Besides teaching,
    food service is the most ignorant I have ever been privy to when
    it comes to race. Servers are like Pavlov’s dogs, they respond to
    trained stimuli. Once trained they react to the same stimuli over and
    over. Who provided this stimuli? If you answered Pavlov you are correct.
    Now, apply the same answer to the two communities that this article
    describes. Waiters (in this”study”) and African American patrons. Who is
    Pavlov and who are his dogs? The waiters are not to blame. This is a
    social problem that is, pardon the term, segregated, to a specific

  • Megan

    I’ve never treated black customers any different that whites because many of them do tip well and treat me politely. But on average, whites tip better and are better customers.