Woman says bar owned by country star Jason Aldean racially profiled her black husband over hoodie

Erin Donnelly
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 07: Jason Aldean attends the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Jason Aldean's Nashville bar and restaurant has been accused of racially profiling black customers. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Staffers at country singer Jason Aldean’s Nashville restaurant and bar have been accused of turning away black men for wearing hoodies — something the wife of one of the men says she saw “numerous” white customers wearing.

In a Facebook post made public on Saturday, Laura Murphy detailed her group’s experience the night before when they tried to enter Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar, the nightspot and live music venue the country star owns in partnership with TC Restaurant Group. According to Murphy, a bouncer prevented her husband — the only black person in their group of five — from entering the venue because he was wearing a hoodie.

Murphy — who claims that no dress code was posted — says her husband volunteered to ditch his hoodie, but was allegedly told that “he had to leave.” As the “dumbfounded” group exited, they passed three other black men who had also been denied entry because of the dress code, though she couldn’t specify the violation since not all of them wore hoodies.

But Murphy’s group noticed other patrons wearing hoodies inside the bar without incident.

“They all were white,” she says in her Facebook post. “We asked them if they were asked to leave and they all said no, they had been there for hours. We also watched two white men be allowed to enter by removing their hoodies.”

When the group confronted staff over the discrepancy, a manager allegedly ran screaming after one of Murphy’s friends, prompting her co-workers to warn her that she might get fired.

“NEVER in my life have I seen such an outwardly blatant display of racism in person,” Murphy continued. “People live this every day because they happen to have black skin. It’s easy for those of us without the daily reminder to walk around oblivious to the behaviors of others. This world needs to change, and without telling stories like this, we send the message that this is OK. It most definitely is not.”

She also called for her followers to boycott the restaurant — because “there are so many fun places here, who welcome people of all skin tones.”

Murphy later updated her post to note that she received an apology from the owner of the third-party security service company involved. The owner, a black man, suggested that there may have been a miscommunication about the venue’s dress code policy.

In response to Murphy’s now-viral post, TC Restaurant Group has issued a statement saying management is “horrified” by her claims.

"We strive to be one of the most welcoming establishments in Nashville and are horrified by these reports," the statement reads. "Our leadership team is investigating this situation and will take action should we find that any of our employees or third-party security contractors violated our policies. We appreciate those who have brought this to our attention."

A spokeswoman also tells Yahoo Lifestyle that they have been in touch with Murphy, and confirmed that hoodies are permitted in the venue. Indeed, a photo posted on the Aldean’s Facebook page just days ago shows Aldean himself performing at the venue to a crowd which includes multiple people who appear to be wearing hoodies as well as caps.

Murphy, meanwhile, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that “it has not been clarified why some patrons were turned away because of [the hoodies miscommunication], and others were allowed to enter.” She added that she and her husband are “disappointed” to have not heard directly from TC Restaurant Group, but says management has their contact details.

“We are hopeful that by sharing our experience, that we can bring light to incidents like ours happening not only in this establishment, but in others around the country as well,” she shared. “Our wish is that some good comes from this very bad experience.”

Aldean’s is not the first nightspot to be accused of using a dress code to racially profile potential customers. A Sacramento bar’s crackdown on “grills, gang colors, solid color T-shirts, baggy clothes” and other items sparked controversy in September. And a Louisiana bar, restaurant and bowling alley issued an apology this summer, following backlash over its dress code prohibiting “sagging” pants and colors associated with gangs.

Updated, 4:55 p.m., Nov. 4: This article has been updated to include TC Restaurant Group’s statement.

Updated, 12:30 p.m., Nov. 5: Murphy’s statement to Yahoo Lifestyle has been added.

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