MANHATTAN (CN) – A New York City rooftop lounge famous for lending customers red hooded robes to keep warm in the winter must fight claims that the owner’s racial discrimination ruined a black woman’s birthday, a federal judge ruled.
On Jan. 13, 2010, the allegedly aggrieved party of 15 sued the popular restaurant and lounge 230 Fifth in Bronx Supreme Court. The case eventually made its way to Manhattan federal court, where U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon pronounced three of the claims ready for trial on Tuesday.
According to the original complaint, plaintiff Rainell Owen made a large reservation with a woman named Ruby on Oct. 10, 2009, two weeks before her friend’s birthday. Ruby allegedly took down Rainell’s credit card information, said that there would be no minimum tab and assured her that the party could pay in cash and bring a birthday cake.
On the night of the event, however, a hostess allegedly told them that their reservation was not listed, insisted they must be at the wrong place and asked them to leave.
Eventually, they were admitted on the condition that they agree to a four-bottle minimum in advance at $250 a pop, plus gratuity, charged to their credit card, the complaint states.
The groups said they complained that they traveled 90 minutes to the lounge because nobody told them about these conditions, and a manager allegedly brushed aside their concerns with dripping sarcasm.
“A manager (a white male) came out and said extremely sarcastically that it’s ‘funny’ how they can’t find the reservation and it’s ‘funny’ how no one told her that there’s a four bottle minimum, and it’s ‘funny’ how no one named Ruby works there,” the complaint states.
Owens said she then gave the waitress the credit card so the party could begin, but it was interrupted again when they tried to bring out the cake. The manager allegedly told them “to hurry up and get rid of the cake” because “the owner thinks you people are going to mess up his furniture.”
But white patrons eating food on nearby sofas were allegedly not harassed by management.
At that point, the owner alleged yelled at two managers that “these people [are] going to fuck up my $10,000 sofa! These kinds of people do not deserve to be here!”
One manager then allegedly told another manager: “Whatever you have to do, get those people out of here! You fucking do it! Give them their money back so they can get the fuck out!”
“Owens and her guests were thrown out of 230 Fifth,” court documents state. “When Owens asked why, the manager said, ‘Fuck you! You people don’t deserve to be here.'”
They sued 230 Fifth and five John Does in state court about 15 months later. The lounge noted the time lapse in trying to toss the charges.
Judge McMahon upheld three of the claims, while dismissing six others she deemed time-barred or duplicative.
An attorney for the lounge declined to comment.