AMES, IOWA – An interracial couple recently filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission after they claimed the owner of Flip ‘N Jacks in Ames discriminated against the husband, who is black.
Dezmen and Lacey Southward said they went to Flip N Jacks with their two sons in early December. The family intended to meet Dezmen’s parents for dinner. However, when Dezmen went into the restaurant to reserve a table for his family, he did not feel welcome.
“When I went in, I was met by a guy who I later found out was the owner,” said Dezmen Southward.
“And he told me there are about a hundred people ahead of [me and I] might not want to wait.”
Southward said he added his name to the waitlist even though it was not crowded. However, he noticed that something was odd. “He put my name down on the waiting list, and ahead of my name, I only saw two names.”
Dezmen said he left the restaurant; feeling like something was wrong, he called his parents en route to the restaurant. His mom advised him to send his wife Lacey into the restaurant to reserve a table. Lacey says the owner accommodated her by telling her a shorter wait time. A short time later, Lacey says she walked back into the restaurant with her husband, Dezmen. The couple says the owner was surprised when the pair walked in together.
“Once he sees that we were together, the look on his face changed,” said Dezmen. “And it was just so embarrassing for me because I don’t feel like I should need my wife’s hand to get into a restaurant in a timely manner.”
The incident left Dezmen’s wife disappointed.
“To look at my husband when he got back in the car and see the pain in his eyes, to know he wasn’t good enough because of the color of his skin is infuriating. It’s not okay,” said Lacey.
The experience pushed Lacey to share her family’s experience on social media. A short time later, the restaurant also shared a post explaining their side of the story, but they did not apologize.
Dezmen is a husband, father, college graduate, and retired NFL player. He says he does not want any money but instead a genuine apology.
“To be completely honest, it’s not okay to treat anyone like this, especially for the color of their skin or the way they look. It’s just not okay.”
Flip ‘N Jacks owner declined an interview with WHO 13 News. However, the owner says the incident was a misunderstanding.