The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Texas restaurant says server fabricated story of racist note

Update: Saltgrass Steak House chief operating officer Terry Turney said in a statement Monday that the employee “fabricated the entire story,” and the banned customer has been invited back to the restaurant. Here is the full statement: 

“After further investigation, we have learned that our employee fabricated the entire story. The customer has been contacted and invited back to our restaurant to dine on us. Racism of any form is intolerable, and we will always act swiftly should it occur in any of our establishments.  Falsely accusing someone of racism is equaling disturbing.”

The bill was $108.73. His tip: $0.

Why $0?

The customers apparently made sure to let Khalil Cavil know.

They circled his name printed on the receipt and wrote a note: “We don’t tip terrorist.”

Cavil is a half-black, half-white, 20-year-old waiter who speaks openly about his Christian faith and plans to pursue a degree in theology. “Khalil” was the name of a friend of his father’s who died in an accident. His father had thought about that friend a lot, and he liked the name, which means “friend” in Arabic, so he named his son after him, according to Cavil’s mother.

Perhaps it was her son’s name, or his appearance, or both, that made those customers accuse Cavil of being a terrorist, Jamie Swindle said, but she could never be sure.

“I don’t know what these people was thinking,” she told The Washington Post. “They saw the name, they saw him. . . . I don’t think I’d ever understand why anyone would do something like that.”

Black farmers say they were deliberately sold defective soybean seeds because of their race

Cavil, a waiter from Odessa, Tex., said the note he received Saturday night from one of his tables left him speechless and “sick to my stomach.” The next day he posted an image of the note on Facebook, where it has since been shared 19,000 times and garnered nearly 8,000 comments, most of which were positive.

“I share this because I want people to understand that this racism, and this hatred still exists. Although, this is nothing new, it is still something that will test your faith,” wrote Cavil, who didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Post.

It’s unknown who those customers were (Cavil redacted the personal information of the person whose credit card was used to pay for the meal). But Terry Turney, chief operating officer of Saltgrass Steak House, where Cavil works, said the customer is now banned from the restaurant.

“We stand by and support our employee,” Turney said in a statement. “Racism of any form is unacceptable.”

Some supporters have since found ways to send Cavil money to make up for the tip he didn’t receive. In a follow-up Facebook post on Wednesday, Cavil thanked those who have sent him money.

A black lawmaker was canvassing door to door in her district. A constituent called 911.

But he said: “I want to make it very clear that this was never about the tip nor the money. It was about shedding a light on racism and sharing the love of Jesus. It was about igniting conversations because I believe real change happens when we start talking about the issue and acknowledging it’s there.”

Cavil had spent the past two years at Odessa College and will soon move to Dallas, where he will pursue a degree in theology at Dallas Baptist University, his mother said.

Several similar incidents have been reported within the past two years. In August 2016, a waitress in Harrisonburg, Va., said she didn’t get a tip from a customer who left her this note instead: “We only tip citizens.” Sadie Karina Elledge was born in the United States and is of Honduran and Mexican descent.

In March 2017, four Latina customers said their waiter at a Southern California restaurant refused to serve them until they showed proof of residency.

Read more:

This couple didn’t tip their Latina server. They left a hateful message instead.

A California waiter refused to serve 4 Latina customers until he saw ‘proof of residency’

Alan Dershowitz says ‘friends on Martha’s Vineyard’ are shunning him for defending Trump