BRANDON — Four people are suing Barnacles restaurant, claiming they are victims of racial discrimination.
The incident began with what Kenny Jones, of Carrollwood, described as a pleasant mid December evening at the sports-themed restaurant — at least until shortly after they ordered.
Jones, 46, said he and his former wife, Elizabeth Remis, 45, came to the Providence Road restaurant with another couple.
Remis is white. Jones and the other couple, Adonis and Julie Benton, are black. Halfway through their meal, the restaurant manager — who is white — demanded ID or a credit card in case they left without paying, a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Tampa alleges.
"I think they would all describe it as the most humiliating moment of their lives," said attorney Chris Rodems, who represents the group.
After drinks and appetizers, Jones said, a waiter asked for someone in the group to provide ID as insurance against "dine and dash" customers.
When Jones and the others balked, the restaurant manager intervened, followed by security. Jones said he stood up, reached into his pocket and showed the manager $1,200 in cash.
The manager, Jones said, told him to "sit down and shut up." The manager didn't give them his name, and Rodems said he still doesn't know it.
Jones did sit down, but the group decided to leave. In the ladies' room prior to their departure, a white woman told Remis and Julie Benton that her group had run up a large bill but no one ever demanded proof that the bill could be paid, the lawsuits states.
Jones paid the $141 tab and tipped the waiter.
Attempts to get the restaurant's side of the story were unsuccessful.
Manager Greg Brett said he was not working at Barnacles on Dec. 16, and couldn't comment. Barnacles general manager Mark Hudson could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at (813) 661-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.