Two Utah men said they were denied service at a local bar because of their race (video below).
The incident occurred on Feb. 16, Fox 13 reported. Frank Maea and his cousin Stephen Wily visited Willies Lounge in Salt Lake City when the bartender asked for their IDs.
“She looked up and said, 'I can't serve Polynesians' and I was like... 'You can't what?'” Maea told Fox 13.
Maea and Wily said it was their first and last time visiting the bar.
“We were just in awe, everyone in the bar was,” Wily said.
“One woman said, 'Wait, did I hear this correctly? Did you just say you can't serve these guys because they're Polynesian,'” Maea recalled.
The bartender told the two men it was a matter of company policy. The bar’s owner, Geremy Cloyd, defended his employee’s decision but said it was all a misunderstanding.
“I've told all my bartenders if groups of unknown people, including Polynesians but not limited to, that we don't know come in late at night: They don't have to serve them,” Cloyd said.
“They called me and said we just screened someone,” Cloyd added. “We probably should have served them. I came flying down saying, 'Hey let me buy you dinner, or something' ... they were already gone.”
Maea and Wily said they were kicked out before they could meet the owner.
“They said, 'You guys got to leave now' and we left,” Maea said, adding that a few others left the bar with them.
“We swallowed our pride, walked out with our heads held high,” Wily added.
The two men took to social media after the incident. They posted a video of their night at Willies Lounge on Facebook on Feb. 17. The caption read:
Pure Ignorance! Last night a few of us visited WILLIES Lounge for the first time and after our ID's were checked the bartender Alisha said we cannot serve ‘POLYNESIANS’ I was taken back by her comment. It's 2016 ‘Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity’ Shame on you WILLIES!
The video has been making rounds on Facebook. Some people who were booked to perform at the bar have canceled because of the incident.
“We messed up last night, a lot of times we get it right, last night we didn't,” Cloyd said.
According to Fox 13, Cloyd still defended his bar's policy on Facebook:
Due to many issues we’ve had with certain groups of people we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. We don’t do this without just cause. We want our business to be a place where anyone can come and have drinks in a SAFE ENVIRONMENT. We do everything we can to make sure our CUSTOMERS and EMPLOYEES ARE SAFE.
The Facebook post has reportedly since been removed.
Maea and Wily said they are now speaking with some civil rights groups regarding the incident.