HOUSTON --Restaurant receipts are full of names and numbers reflecting what you ate that night. But two words that appeared on a customer's check have a family upset and confused. The words "Hispanic couple" were printed at Blackjack's Bar and Grill. The owner of Blackjack's says her waiters usually identify people in their computer systems by their names and that ID usually doesn't get printed out on the check, but that wasn't the case one night last month. Now, one woman wonders whether she was racially profiled.
Owner Debby Justice emphasizes her restaurant's openness."We welcome everybody and anybody," she said. But by the time one northwest Harris County woman left Blackjack's Bar and Grill last month, she wasn't feeling very welcomed at all. "It's not nice, not at all," the woman said. The woman, who doesn't want us to use her name, and a friend had just spent a pleasant Friday night talking over a few beers and wings. They were happy, but then came the check, and one thing stood out. "Really big letters, Hispanic couple," she said. At the bottom, in big bold letters, there it was: Hispanic couple. They were offended. "It sounds rude and kind of rude and ugly," she said. "It wasn't our intention," Justice said. "Being a family sports bar, we don't want to offend anybody." Justice says it was her waitress's way to identify the couple in the crowded bar. It was the last time it happened. She says the next morning, she gathered the staff and changed policy. "We just changed the policy, saying get clothing color, get names, and let's work with that," Justice said. It's the first time the El Paso native of Mexican descent has felt profiled. "I'm very, very surprised, especially here in Houston," she said. Now Blackjack's has lost her business. "There's definitely a lot more places where we can go and have fun without being ID'ed if we're Hispanic," she said. There are two different stories about whether an apology was offered that night. Either way, the owner says she apologizes and says it wasn't her intention to offend anybody, although they didn't pick up the check that night. The woman who complained about the receipt didn't tip the waitress.