A social media firestorm has arisen after Kandy Bar in Charlotte’s EpiCentre uptown was accused of denying entrance to African American patrons over the weekend.
In a now-viral Facebook post Sunday evening, Ashley Ellis Sisco says she observed the club’s bouncer permitting entrance to white patrons but denying it to black men and women. By Monday afternoon, the post, which contained a video of the club’s entrance Saturday, had been shared over 74,000 times.
In responses to multiple complaints of racism over Twitter and Facebook, the club said it takes allegations of discrimination very seriously. “We have zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment,” Kandy Bar said in a Facebook post Monday. “The individuals who were tuned away did not meet the dress code.”
The dress code prohibits athletic gear, baggy clothing, tank tops, athletic hats, chains and excessive jewelry, sunglasses, sneakers and work boots.
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The Charlotte NAACP is calling for a full investigation of the club’s practices. In a statement, the group asked that any rights to practice in Charlotte “be revoked.”
In her post, Sisco said the bouncer Saturday told those in line that they needed to be “members” in order to get in. Kandy Bar says as a private club, all guests have to have a membership card to enter. The club also says on its website it has the right to refuse entrance or service “to anyone at anytime for any reason,” including for a dress code violation.
Gennaro Vitale, who owns Kandy Bar, said the club has reviewed its footage from Saturday, and determined the guest in question was wearing Air Jordans and a plain white T-shirt.
“It’s ludicrous,” Vitale said. “I don’t know who started this uproar thing. It’s not a color issue; it’s a dress code issue.”
In a lengthy, now-deleted Facebook post, the club said it does not deny entry based on the color of someone’s skin. “Everyone who has written a review or posted on here has been very derogatory, using explicit language, threatening and very ignorant,” the post reads.
Kandy Bar currently has a Yelp rating of 1.5 stars out of a top rating of 5 stars. “This business is being monitored by Yelp’s Support team for content related to media reports,” the review site says on the Kandy Bar page.
Sisco, who wrote the viral Facebook post, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte NAACP, said Monday she received multiple calls from others accusing the club of discriminatory practices, and that this kind of incident “happens consistently” at Kandy Bar.
“This can’t be tolerated and it shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone, specifically those who live in Charlotte because we work very hard to be inclusive,” Mack said.
Kandy Bar, an upscale dessert wine bar and lounge, opened in the EpiCentre uptown in spring 2016.