HOUSTON - Channel 2 Investigates put racism claims detailed in emails to the station and online reviews to the test recently on a Friday night.
Groups of men and women from different ethnicities were sent to four local Midtown bars to see if they were charged cover to get in or an additional fee to get in a VIP section.
The groups consisted of white, Hispanic, black and Asian adults. The bars tested were Red Door, Midtown Drinkery, Dogwood and Gas Lamp.
All ethnicities, with valid IDs, were allowed in at Red Door, Midtown Drinkery and Dogwood without being asked to pay cover.
At Gas Lamp, the Hispanic men and black men, who entered without women, were asked to pay $10 in cover and additional money to get into the VIP section. The black women, white men and women, and later just the white men, were given free entrance and free VIP access. The Hispanic women were not asked to pay cover but were told they had to pay more to get into the VIP area. The Asian man was not asked to pay cover, but did not get a stamp allowing free access to the VIP area.
(Watch the video above to see the test and hear from the bar's owner.)
The owner of the bar, Ayman Jarrah, says his club gives free entry to people who are good looking, appear successful and who will attract other customers. He says his bar is not racist.
"We treat people different on the base of their dress, not on the base of their color," Jarrah said. "I'm not a white guy."
Club attorney Tim Sutherland says that if customers come dressed to have fun and dress well, they will get in.
"We're trying to promote a certain image and we're trying to have balanced amounts of guys and girls here," Sutherland said. "And largely, we want successful people in here, and that applies whether you are black or white."
Have a tip about a story for investigative reporter Jace Larson? Email or text him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 832-493-3951.
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