Outrage Aimed at Rhinebeck Restaurant Over Racist Artwork
A local restaurant has removed some artwork that has been deemed offensive after an outpouring of criticism from customers.
Foster's Coach House Tavern in Rhinebeck was called out this weekend when a customer noticed artwork on the wall that depicted a cartoonish Black man with "huge lips and bugged out eyes." The customer was Toré, a podcaster and former MSNBC host who chronicled the situation on his Twitter account that has over 200,000 followers.
According to Toré, he presented his concerns about the decorations to management who went on to argue with him that the artwork was not racist and had been on the wall "since the 1890s." After refusing to address his concerns, the podcaster then claimed the female manager told him "if you don’t want to eat here that’s your choice."
Since the incident happened on Sunday, Foster's Yelp page has been slammed with customers criticizing the restaurant's decision to ignore the outdated artwork. A review from Anne M. included photos from inside the restaurant that not only showed the wooden sculpture that Toré was complaining about but other prints depicting racist imagery from the past.
The framed prints are from the Darktown Comics series published by Currier & Ives. Created in the 1890s, the series is widely criticized for its clearly racist depiction of Black people. Foster's Coach House had several of the images hanging on their wall.
The backlash against the restaurant has lowered Foster's Yelp rating to just 2.5 stars, mostly due to reviews calling out the restaurant to take down the offensive artwork.
On Sunday evening, just a few hours after the Tweet went viral, Foster's Coach House apparently changed their position about the artwork and posted a statement on their Facebook page announcing that the images would be removed.
Many customers commented on the post, claiming that complaints about the artwork had gone unanswered for years. Others questioned why there was no apology included in the statement. A few customers were particularly concerned that the message didn't directly address Toré, the Black customer who was allegedly told to "eat elsewhere" if he was offended by the art.
We reached out to Fosters Coach House to give them an opportunity to apologize to those who were offended. They responded with the following statement
Foster's management has removed the antiquated and inappropriate Currier & Ives imagery and wall hanging from the restaurant. Foster's management strongly rebukes racism in any form. The restaurant has been a staple of the Hudson Valley community for over one-hundred years. The current management truly regrets the inclusion of this imagery in the restaurant's environment and recognizes the decor put in place in the past has no place in today's world. The restaurant will continually strive to provide a welcoming and open environment for all.
While the restaurant still did not offer any specific apologies to the podcaster or others who have complained about the sculpture and prints, they do say they regret the artwork's inclusion in the restaurant's decor and have removed all of the offensive images.