Waiter who got customer barred for ‘we don’t tip terrorist’ message ‘fabricated the entire story’

The Texas restaurant company which banned a customer after an employee’s story of a receipt scrawled with a racial epithet went viral said that it had parted ways with the employee and learned that the story was made up.

“We have learned that our employee fabricated the entire story,” Terry Turney, the chief operating officer of Saltgrass steakhouses, said in a statement. “Racism of any form is intolerable, and we will always act swiftly should it occur in any of our establishments. Falsely accusing someone of racism is equally disturbing.”

The incident unfolded earlier this month when Khalil Cavil, a 20-year-old waiter at a Saltgrass outpost in Odessa, Texas, posted an image to Facebook that showed a $108 bill with zero on the tip line, and “We don’t tip terrorist,” written in ink at the top.

Mr Cavil, who is of mixed black and white parentage, said that he received the note from one of his tables, and that it left him “sick to my stomach”.

“I share this because I want people to understand that this racism, and this hatred still exists,” he wrote. “Although, this is nothing new, it is still something that will test your faith.”

The incident came in the midst of increased attention given to incidents of racist behaviour in the public sphere, particularly as they are shared in social media posts that generate thousands of views and strong emotions. But the ease with which fake information can spread on the internet before it is ever verified remains a persistent concern.

Mr Cavil’s post was shared thousands of times, generating some 8,000 comments on Facebook. The decision by Saltgrass, which is owned by the company Landry’s, to ban the customer for the incident made headlines around the world.

“Racism of any form is unacceptable,” Mr Turney said at the time.

The company declined to explain what had caused it to issue the striking about-face or whether Cavil had been dismissed.

“All I can say is he’s no longer with the company,” spokeswoman Colleen Wagner said. It is not clear what information on the image of the receipt was authentic.

The customer, whose name had been redacted on the receipt, has not been identified, but the company said that the person had been invited back to the restaurant to dine for free.

Mr Cavil was not immediately available for comment. A voicemail message left with his mother, Jamie Swindle, was not returned. The Odessa American reported that he had apologised in an interview with a reporter.

After his story went viral, Mr Cavil thanked supporters on Facebook who sent him money. But his Facebook posts about the incident have since been deleted and it is not clear if his profile still exists on the service.

At the time, Cavil gave an interview to an ABC affiliate in Texas in which he spoke about what he said was the history of his name and about how his faith was guiding him through the experience of supposedly being called a terrorist.

“It was not about the money,” Mr Cavil said. “It’s about shedding a light on an issue I feel very passionately about.”

The Washington Post

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