Owner says “minorities need not apply” sign was a mistake

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(CNN) – A restaurant sign that went viral for all the wrong reasons has the owner apologizing.

As employees set-up for Monday’s lunch rush at Kenny’s Home Cooking, off North Pine Street, they were worried that customers might serve them a helping of controversy. One employee said, “It’s really affected our business. It has.”

Over the weekend a woman posted a photo of a help wanted sign on Facebook. The sign read in “minorities need not apply.” The post caused a firestorm of reactions; it has more than 600 shares so far. People called for boycotts, and threatened to report the restaurant to federal authorities.

Melonie Henderson and Deborah Bright are servers who’ve been here for years. They said, “The thing about it is there’s all kind of minorities in here that work. Our owner, she’s Japanese. We have Spanish cooks. We have a black dishwasher…Everybody’s welcome at Kenny’s. We treat everybody the same.” They added that their bosses misunderstood the sign, “They thought it meant minors, not minorities.”

The owner, who goes by Sue, said English is not her first language. Sue said “I’m really sorry. Please forgive me.” She said her husband, who’s Korean, bought the sign on eBay.

She said after she realized what the sign really meant, she took it down and replaced it with an apology, but the damage was already done. Deborah and Melonie said, “That day we probably only had 20 customers and me and the other girl that was working, we didn’t make hardly any money. We had phone calls all day harassing us.”

Today, customers like Shondreka Shippy, who’s been coming here for a year showed up, but not to eat. Shippy said, “I was a little heartbroken and devastated about it.” She wanted to read the apology saying, “I never felt uncomfortable eating here.”

However, she told us she didn’t buy the owners’ explanation and added, “I’m not coming back here no more.”

At lunch, the dining room was full. The servers say they’re accepting that as a heaping helping of understanding and forgiveness.

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