Is Kung Fu Saloon Racist?

Allegations of possible recent racist treatment to customers at the Austin location of Kung Fu Saloon are making waves in media circles this afternoon. Similar allegations, meanwhile, have been fired away at the Houston location of the arcade game-filled bar chain for the better part of a year now.

Two out of three ain’t exactly a good look, no. But make no mistake: The chain’s third location, found in Dallas at 2911 Routh Street, isn’t exactly setting a higher standard.

Though possibly popular in cheap, antique gaming circles, a quick look at the establishment’s Yelp reviews paint a bleaker picture of the place — especially the “filtered” reviews.

Writes Yelper J.V.:

“I thought I’d be the only person adding the RACIST comment to this review but I wish I would have read the comments before we decided to go check this spot out. Don’t expect to get in if you’re in a group of minorities. While there were “sprinkles” of us inside, you have to be the token in a group of white. Expect the “you’re sneakers are not acceptable” line to the guys in your group though the long group of white boys in front and behind were allowed in with sandals and same tennis. Shame on you Kung Fu Saloon. The star rating above should be a negative 5.”

Writes Yelper Arthur J.:

“This place is just plain racist! If you are a person of color, the doorman will look you up and down and find a reason not to let you in. The crazy thing is…you look into Kung Fu Saloon and will see people wearing the exact same thing as you…ie no socks! Please do not waste your time with this establishment! I am all for dress code, but blatant racism???”

Writes Yelper Vyna H.:

“On Sunday I thought I’d give Kung Fu another try because I was in the neighborhood and the lines at other places were long, but my group was stopped from entering b/c my boyfriend wasn’t wearing socks. Who wears socks w/ Tod’s loafers, let alone in 80 degree weather? Our group consisted of African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and European-Asian mixes. After seeing many sockless caucasian patrons inside, I realized that we were being discriminated against by the color of our skin.

Over the next 45 to an hour, our group stood outside arguing w/ Kung Fu’s bouncers. We pointed out patrons inside wearing flip flops, sandals, and loafers sockless. Then they called the cops on us! As if they owned the public sidewalk outside the bar and we were trespassing.

During the argument, I heard the idiot door guy say to one caucasian couple (sockless also) trying to enter, “If y’all would just wait until they leave I would let y’all in.” In addition to that, he would tell sockless caucasian guys to enter through the other door around the corner! ”

Vyna H.’s review goes on, but so too do similar accusations. Of the 33 “filtered” reviews on the Dallas location of Kung Fu Saloon, no fewer than 15 mention racial discrimination.

These complainers aren’t alone, either: Back in May, a Dallas-based party-promoting site called The Social Inc. asked users to spread the news about its Kung Fu Boycott initiative. Writes that petition, in part:

“My conclusion, based on my experience and logic, is that Kung Fu’s staff, perhaps at the direction of their ownership, did not want my friends and I in their establishment because of the color of our skin and their preconceived notions of our value as potential customers or their belief that their white clientele would not want us there.”

To the Austin location’s credit, the media firestorm surrounding the issue has at least prompted a response from management.

Our efforts in this regard haven’t been so productive. We’ve been following this story since first becoming aware of The Social Inc.’s boycott in June, but repeated requests for comment from management at the Dallas location of Kung Fu Saloon have proven unsuccessful.

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