Last night, a friend and I decided to try out a new place on Castro Street (the one in Mountain View, not the Gay Mecca in San Francisco): California Roadhouse. From what I can tell, it’s your basic sports bar and grill– the menu features a number of different steak cuts and cheaply priced draft beers and a number of pretty big plasma screens surround the bar.
We got there around 7pm and while the bar was fairly full, the restaurant was only about half full. There was no one else waiting for a table, but it still took 15-20 minutes to get seated– the bartender clearly saw that we were waiting for a table and still didn’t bother to call over the hostess or somebody to seat us and I noticed a woman giving us surly looks from the bar the whole time. In any case, we were finally seated and a bus boy came around relatively soon with water. So, we sat eating handfuls of peanuts at the table, sipping water, looking over the menu and waiting for a waiter or waitress to at least come and take a drink order. And we waited. And waited. At first, we thought the service was just slow, but the restaurant was only half full and there seems to be plenty of waitstaff working. We soon realized that people who were seated after us were being waited on before us. After about 20 minutes of eating our weight in peanuts and waiting to just be acknowledged by one of the waitstaff, we decided to leave and on the way out, the bartender saw us leaving, but did nothing to stop us.
Now, my friend and I don’t like to play the race card and maybe the service was just bad yesterday, but as we were leaving, I realized that we were the only minorities I noticed in the entire restaurant and I can’t help feeling like our bad service (or lack of any service) directly correlated to the color of our skin. Maybe a little bit of it was that he’s Black and that I’m Asian, maybe a little bit of it was that we were Black and Asian (Blasian) together, but having been discriminated against individually our whole lives and often when we are together, recognizing racism becomes a skill. Racism comes in many forms, but there are definitely some greatest hits and poor service at a restaurant or business is a pretty popular one. And even if wanted to write it off as poor service, the fact people who were seated after us were served before us AND that the bartender saw us leaving and didn’t do do or say anything really put the nail in the coffin.
So, yes, even in easy, breezy California, racism is still prevalent, so believe it, bitches. In contrast, when we headed over to Amici’s, we were seated right away and as our waitress walked by, even though she couldn’t help us immediately, she let us know that she would be right with us. Then, when she did come over, which was only a few minutes later, she apologized for the wait and continued to give us great service for the rest of the meal. She was the big winner of the day and she got a fat tip as well as two happy customers.