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Critics decry $100/person minimums and ‘racist’ dress code of high-end eateries

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Steak-loving consumers in Chicago and Philadelphia are in for severe sticker shock when they dine at luxury steakhouse Steak 48 which is now charging a $100 minimum per person and instituting a strict dress code at their restaurants.

One man was shocked and outraged when he found out about the pricy minimum charge per customer to eat at the restaurant. Since Chicago is now beginning to reopen after pandemic restrictions, he thinks the minimum should be ditched. Others believe that the complicated and restrictive dress code is somehow racist as well. Banned clothing includes anything “excessively frayed,” “emitting offensive odors”, and exposed undergarments. The policies are causing a huge stir.

Unfortunately, according to CBS 2, the rule is not going to be rescinded in the near future. And Steak 48 is not alone. Other restaurants are keeping minimum charges and other rules in place regardless of the virus fading away.

Customer Howard Tolsky went online to book a dinner at Steak 48 but lost his appetite after reviewing the requirements to dine there, according to the outlet.

“It’s a shame,” he said. For Tolsky, his wife, and mother-in-law to eat there, he would have to shell out $300 before gratuities and taxes. “I figured, well, we’re not going to spend $300,” he asserted. “We might spend $250. But I don’t want to spend $300 dollars on a meal that costs $250.”

(Video Credit: Fox 32 Chicago)

According to the restaurant, the rule was put in place in May following the lifting of long-standing COVID restrictions. Steak 48 is claiming that minimum charge will remain in effect for a “successful” sit-down experience and “support” of its restaurant staff.

Tolsky, like those who cannot afford the minimum charge or are offended by it, will have to dine elsewhere. “Now is the time for them to attract customers and not detract them,” he contends.

Maple & Ash is another Chicago restaurant mandating a $100 minimum per person. Tao will reportedly charge $35 per person.

“Most of our price points range from $30 to $45 per person,” commented Scott Weiner, who is the co-owner of the 50/Fifty Restaurant Group. “We haven’t had the conversation yet about taking it away.” His group is not charging a minimum but they are charging other fees such as a restaurant deposit to guarantee a reservation.

Reservation site OpenTable is now providing a new tool that labels repeat no-shows. According to the site, about 28 percent of Americans were no shows at some point in the past year, straining restaurants’ revenue, supplies, and staffing.

“We have about 15 to 70 cancellations per day,” claimed Steven Hartenstein of Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants. If things get worse, he will be forced to start restaurant deposits. “I have considered putting that into effect,” he noted.

According to Steak 48’s website, they serve “the finest steaks and high-quality seafood in an intimate and vibrant setting. Our diverse menu will satisfy any personal craving, as we serve the best USDA prime steaks, succulent seafood, and shellfish along with inventive and classically inspired side dishes and appetizers.”

Houston Style Magazine quoted one person on Twitter who believes the strict dress code has racial undertones. “I think, combined with their extremely specific dress code, this restaurant has made it clear that they don’t want to serve people of color, and the community at large should act accordingly,” he stated. “People need to stop supporting places that are harming our communities.”

Not everyone feels that way. Black foodie Ernest Owens thinks it’s misplaced outrage. “It’s obvious that faux woke people in Philadelphia have drunk the anti-Black Kool-Aid and bought into stereotypes that suggest Black people are cheap and poor and lack taste. That is so far from the truth. In fact, we are the complete opposite,” Owens noted in Philadelphia Magazine.

“Go to any major steakhouse in Philly, and Black people are there,” Owens added. “Before the pandemic, Del Frisco’s, Ocean Prime, Capital Grille, Chima, and other places along what I often describe as Center City’s ‘Steakhouse Row’ were hot spots for Black diners. Any Black professional in town has likely gone to these places multiple times and will tell you so.”

“From political networking to engagement parties, we’ve made these restaurants our idea of a good time. I’ve hosted dinner parties at them, and members of my diverse social circles paid and tipped well without a sweat. And yes, I can cook my own damn New York strip just as well — but with steakhouses, it’s always been about the ambiance and experience of going out and being dapper. Dress-code policies that call for professional attire never bothered us because just like anyone else — Black people know how to respect the rules of engagement. While some superstar athletes and musicians may have come to these places in their super-casual fits and sneakers, many more Black customers have shown up dressed to the nines,” he concluded.

Given the minimum wage hike and how hard establishments have been hit by the pandemic, with reservations becoming problematic, price hikes are likely over the next few months.

Many were less than thrilled over the minimum charge by Steak 48 but others just said go somewhere else if you don’t want to play by their rules:

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