Woman: Cypress restaurant said 'Black students from Prairie View don't tip', GM denies claim

A Waller woman said she was kicked out of a Cypress restaurant because of her race, but the restaurant’s manager said race had nothing to do with it.

CYPRESS, Texas – A Waller woman said she was kicked out of a Cypress restaurant because of her race, but the restaurant’s manager said race had nothing to do with it.

Customer's claims

Brittany Blakney said she's frustrated and hurt.

Blakney claims that she and her friends were racially profiled at Locatelli’s in Cypress.

“It was really shocking because I had never experienced anything like that before,” Blakney said.

Recent graduate

Blakney recently graduated from Prairie View A&M University and went to the restaurant to celebrate with her friends Thursday night.

She claims their server approached them and informed her he was going to add a 15% gratuity to their dinner.

'Black students from Prairie View don’t tip'

“Basically he said, 'Black students from Prairie View don’t tip,'” Blakney said.

Then, she said, she asked to talk with a manager, but the manager defended the server and told her to leave.

“It was definitely embarrassing because she even threatened to call the police. Nobody was belligerent. Nobody was loud ... cursing at her ... anything,” Blakney said.

Restaurant's side of the story

Locatelli’s general manager, Kerrie Salazar, told a different story. She said it wasn’t about race but a concern about the group not tipping.

“It’s very frustrating for the servers because that’s the way that they make their income,” Salazar said.

Salazar said she wanted to add a 15% gratuity for the group of six, which she said is a policy, but it’s one she said isn't always enforced.

Manager's claims

Salazar also claims Blakney insulted her.

“She graduated as an engineer, and she makes twice as much money as I do,” Salazar said.

Salazar said the situation escalated and Blakney started to cuss in the restaurant filled with families.

“I just realized that the situation was not going to be defused unless I asked her to simply leave the restaurant,” Salazar said.

What is Locatelli’s?

  • There are four locations in the Houston area.
  • There are two locations in Cypress: one on Fry Road, where the incident involving Blakney happened, and another on Grant Road, near the intersection of Louetta Road. There's also a location in Tomball and another in Magnolia.
  • The original location on Grant Road opened 15 years ago.
  • According to its website, "Locatelli's is just your typical, every-day Italian restaurant with 300+ 5-Star Google Reviews, a local kitchen that uses only fresh ingredients and one-of-a-kind, from-scratch recipes that have been passed down several generations."
  • The location on Fry Road is near U.S. 290 and is about a 20-minute drive from Prairie View A&M. At this location, the restaurant's website said there is a pet-friendly patio and a curbside pickup option.
  • The Magnolia location has a pet-friendly patio, full bar and Wi-Fi.
  • The Tomball location has a pet-friendly patio with "twinkle lights," according to the website. It's located in the Tomball Marketplace.

This story has been updated to reflect a quote. 

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