Denny's apologizes for turning away group of black customers in Lake City

Man: He and church group were told they could not be accommodated

LAKE CITY, Fla. – A Lake City man said he and his church group were refused service at a Denny's restaurant by an employee who said they would not be able to accommodate them last Friday night.

"Is it the color of my skin? That's where I left it at. Is that a problem? Because everybody else was eating and drinking, and she was, like, 'I am not going to be able to accommodate you all,'" said Elijah Henderson Jr.

Henderson, who's black, claims it was a case of racial discrimination. 

This Friday, Henderson said he got a phone call from Denny's chief operating officer, Chris Bode, who apologized to him.

"He was like, 'Well, I work with a diversity department.' I was like, 'Well, you guys have to do a little more work because it's not working. What you're doing may be working at corporate, but when it drizzles down and comes to the franchisees, it is not working,'" said Henderson.

Henderson said he was coming into Denny's with a group of about 25 church members last Friday and was turned away when an employee said she can't accommodate them with one cashier and one cook.

"I was, like, 'I understand that there is only you and him but can you guys feed us?'  She was, like, 'I am not going to accommodate you all.'" Henderson said. "There was another family that came in right after me, she was, like,'You guys go ahead and have a seat. I will be with you momentarily.'"

That's when Henderson went on Facebook live claiming it was a case of racial discrimination.  The video has gotten more than 2,000 views. This is some of what he said on the video.

"I feel as since I'm African American, that's why she doesn't feel like she should accommodate us. I don't understand. I am not trying to understand, the only thing I do know is that they are wrong, they are wrong for how they treated us," Henderson said. "Point blank, I don't care what you look like, or where you come from, I just want equality."

Denny's corporate office issued the following statement which reads in part:

"We were shocked by the unacceptable experience our guests received recently at our Lake City, Florida, location, and sincerely apologize. We simply do not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our restaurants."

Company officials also said Denny's has completed its investigation and the employee involved no longer works there.