Note: we are republishing this story amid a nationwide conversation about race and racial justice in America.
Over the weekend, Turkey Leg Hut in Houston, Texas, unveiled a new dress code policy, sparking accusations that it was anti-Black. The restaurant has become one of the hottest spots in the city, serving a variety of turkey leg dishes in various dressings including crawfish macaroni. The restaurant’s ambience includes club vibes, music and fun, offering flavorful cocktails, desserts and hookah.
However, the restaurant’s standing in the community took a turn after releasing a strict dress code on its social media pages on Friday. The restaurant’s new code prohibits patrons from wearing “excessively revealing clothing,” baggy clothes, swimsuits, and “no house attire."
The post’s caption stated: “Please know that we are a family-friendly restaurant that serves all ages from children to adults daily, and putting this dress code in place was necessary to ensure that all parties from our guests to our staff are dressed appropriately when in our establishment.”
The caption continued: “Unfortunately, due to the attire of some guests, we are forced to put this new policy in place as we remain committed to ensuring all guests are comfortable while visiting us. We are not a club, we are a family-friendly restaurant and will continue to maintain our standards as we welcome everyone to the Turkey Leg Hut! We appreciate your cooperation and look forward to having you visit us!”
The post quickly went viral, with most commenters making fun of the new dress code. However, some raised the question of whether the new dress code was about setting boundaries, or the restaurant’s attempt at appealing to a wider (read whiter) audience.
In a statement to KHOU 11, the owner of the restaurant, Nakia Price, doubled down on the decision to enforce the dress code: “At the Turkey Leg Hut, we do our best to accommodate all of our guests. It’s unfortunate that we even have to address this or implement a dress code but we are a family-friendly restaurant that serves all ages from children to adults. Unfortunately, we have received complaints from our patrons regarding other guest’s wardrobe choices. In order to try and ensure all guests are comfortable while visiting us, we were forced to put a new dress code policy in place.
“Our dress code policy is not meant to target or offend anyone but rather provide our guests with an acceptable clothing guide, so that all guests and staff will feel comfortable in our establishment,” the statement continued. “The Turkey Leg Hut has been, and always will be, a restaurant of inclusivity for all and we will continue to take into consideration the input of all patrons to provide a safe, comfortable and healthy environment for our community and guests.”