It’s usually not hard to comply with (or understand the thought behind) restaurant dress codes. There's the rule for more relaxed establishments, "no shirt no shoes no service." There's the request at fancier places for gentlemen to wear blazers. But sometimes, there are more head-scratching codes, and Baltimore's new restaurant The Choptank has found themselves at the center of some internet controversy over theirs.
Per their Twitter feed, The Choptank held a preview party and ribbon-cutting this past weekend and, it seems, haven't even opened for business yet. Still, the seafood restaurant's website is live and, alongside info about their address and hours, is a link to their dress code.
Among the items that are "strictly prohibited"? Excessively baggy clothing ("pants must be worn at the waist, no shorts below the knee"), athletic attire, sports jerseys except on days when one of two Baltimore teams is playing, work and construction boots, and perhaps most baffling, "Brimless Headgear (bandanas, beanies, etc.) Backwards or Sideways Hats (must be worn forward)".
It didn't take long for Twitter to observe that, taken together, the rules seem discriminatory.
I like the bottom part where it says they have discretion to enforce these rules. Like discretion based on what. I’m guessing skin colour, but that’s just me.— Aunty Occam (@vorrell) September 16, 2019
I really like the note about “rules enforced at management discretion” it’s a fun no way to say “of course we don’t care what white people do”— Shira (@ShiraDWilson) September 16, 2019
So according to your “rules“, yarmulkes and hijabs are prohibited (brimless headgear)?— stephanie escobar 🇲🇽✡️🌉🧶 (@SFGeekGirl) September 16, 2019
When pressed by Twitter users, the restaurant's official account responded to the criticism by saying other restaurants in the area have similar dress codes. The Choptank's parent company Atlas Restaurant Group said in a statement to Delish:
"We do not support discrimination of any sort and we are reviewing our policy in light of allegations made. We take discrimination allegations very seriously and our employees regularly undergo diversity sensitivity training. In addition, our restaurant has not even opened to the general public yet, we plan on opening later this week. Our goal with any dress code is to set a standard for an elegant and formal dining experience and atmosphere. In addition, guest safety and comfort is our #1 priority. The more formal the guest experience and venue, i.e. The Bygone in the Four Seasons Hotel, the more strict the dress code. Our dress codes are enforced with regard to everyone and everybody, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic. Atlas prides itself on being an inclusive company.”
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