On Tuesday, Cleveland comedian Ricky Smith, who News 5 has interviewed previously for his work with the charity Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere, tweeted, “Just got asked to leave @OliveGarden because we asked for a new server because our server said she doesn’t like serving blacks.”
Just got asked to leave @olivegarden because we asked for a new server because our server said she doesn't like serving blacks...
Smith later told Parma police the server, who herself is black, said African-Americans don’t tip well.
But a restaurant employee who called 911 told a different story, telling a dispatcher she needed back up because "I have customers who are getting, I would say, rowdy with our only female manager.”
The caller went on to say it was Smith and his party making offensive comments, at one point asking for their black server to be replaced with a white server.
“They are making racist comments and refuse to leave the restaurant,” she said. “They were making sexual comments to our server and the next thing was they got ID’d for alcohol and they wanted to buy more alcohol than their ID allowed, so like they wanted to buy alcohol for minors.”
Olive Garden’s parent company Darden Restaurants instructed its employees not to speak to reporters, and Smith, whose tweet started the controversy, refused to answer News 5’s questions on camera, but he remained active on social media.
“False info on the 911 call the young lady gave,” he tweeted Wednesday.
Parma police Captain Kevin Riley said the matter was closed.
“They left. They were friendly. They were cooperative with our officers,” Captain Riley said adding his department decided not to investigate further.
“Whatever happened inside the Olive Garden there between Mr. Smith, his friends and the Olive Garden employees,” he said, “Is between them and the Olive Garden.”
A Darden Restaurants spokesperson confirmed to News 5 the company did make a sizable donation to Smith’s charity, as well as offer up Olive Garden gift cards. Two employees involved were suspended and a third was fired for an insensitive Facebook comment made some time ago.