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A photograph of a notice taped to the front door of the of Masa 14 published today on the blog Popville has drawn some unwelcome attention to the popular 14th Street restaurant. Printed on the restaurant’s letterhead, the notice outlines the establishment’s dress code, calling for patrons to “dress to impress” and wear “business casual attire.” It goes on to specifically list “baggy jeans,” “athletic wear,” “timbs,” “hats” and “sneakers” as unacceptable.
The photo was posted by Popville at 1:25 p.m. and has been shared more than 400 times, receiving more than 137 comments. The vast majority of those comments have taken issue with the notice and raised questions of possible racism.
The very first comment on the photo by a person identified only as EB reads, “This just reads as clothes that are popular among people of color. How insulting.” Another comment reads, “Yeah, this dress code reads as pretty coded racism, targeting “urban” fashion trends that are more often worn in the Black community. They’re definitely not the first place to do this and I’m sure won’t be the last, but I’m incredibly unimpressed all the same.”
Not all individuals commenting found the notice offensive. In defense of Masa 14, justinbc stated, “They are trying to have a nightclub vibe. The implied racist reaction here is so overblown.”
The debate regarding the notice wasn’t limited to Popville’s website, as several comments appeared on Twitter.
— Jade Floyd (@JadeFloydDC) March 27, 2015
— A$ep Melly (@MelReg1) March 27, 2015
Comments expressing concern and anger about the notice posted to Masa 14’s Facebook page were initially taken down by the restaurant but then re-posted.
An employee at Masa 14 who asked to remain anonymous verified the legitimacy of the notice and said it has been removed. The employee reported first seeing the sign near the beginning of the month but was not sure of the exact date.
Masa 14 is owned and operated by Richard Sandoval Restaurants, which operates six other restaurants in the D.C. metro area.
Update: Since this story was published the restaurant issued the following statement via email to Metro Weekly:
“We apologize for the confusion around the dress code requirement at Masa 14. There has never been a required dress code for any meal service at our restaurant. This includes brunch and dinner. We welcome our guests to dress comfortably and any dress code requirements may only be applicable to our late night hours of operations.
Most importantly, the language used within the sign does not represent or reflect upon the restaurant’s principles. Please know that the sign has been removed, and we apologize about any unintended harm that this has caused. We are upset about this misrepresentation and would like to reiterate that we are committed to our values of inclusiveness. We have taken corrective action and we hold ourselves to a higher standard than what was represented in this sign.
At Masa 14 we value every guest, and will see to it that we continue to be a welcomed member in the community.”
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