Update: Kevin Kelley released a statement about the incident on Facebook Monday afternoon.
Restaurant owner Kevin Kelley is garnering attention for his Dallas restaurant, TRUE Kitchen + Kocktails, but for all the wrong reasons. Just before 11 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, November 29, a video of the restaurateur offering “real talk” to some of his patrons was posted to Twitter by user @DJGreenVillain (as seen below) with the caption “Restaurant SUICIDE on camera.”
The video seemingly began in the middle of Kelley speaking to a large group of customers, with Kelley saying he invested “a lot of money” to establish the restaurant. Without any preceding context, it is unknown what, if any, exchange transpired between any parties present prior to the video’s beginning or if the video was edited to remove such an interaction.
“I invested a lot of money into buying this building, into developing this concept so Black people can have somewhere nice to go to, OK?” Kelley said.
The restaurant owner began to elaborate on his intentions behind opening the venue, wanting to build a place where Black people can “feel good about ourselves as a culture,” before appearing to shout at an employee to “stop the music.”
“And so all this twerking and sh*t? Take it to Prime, take it to Pink; don’t bring it here because we’re a restaurant.”
Restaurant SUICIDE on camera. pic.twitter.com/9Bkr6q3lyF
— DJ Green Villain (@DJGreenVillain) November 30, 2020
Kelley went on to say that 75 percent of TRUE’s clientele are female before rhetorically asking how he’s supposed to tell the eatery’s male patrons to “show respect for themselves” before telling those gathered to “get the f*ck out of my restaurant” if they wanted to twerk.
“I did it for our people and I did it for our culture,” he added.
Reaction to the video caused “twerking” to trend on Twitter, in addition to “Ruth Chris,” in seeming reference to the Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain.
TRUE Kitchen + Kocktails opened in August in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Dallas Morning News. Kelley expressed his love for Dallas and its citizens to ABC Affiliate WFAA, saying that anyone who loves good food will want to go to TRUE because “the food is the star.”
Kelley — who’s also the managing partner and an attorney for the Kelley Law Firm, which operates in the space above the restaurant — spoke to CultureMap Dallas in June to express his commitment to the restaurant’s diversity in hiring, saying all Dallas restaurants should seek to do the same, from the kitchen staff to management and other positions.
“We will be that model of restaurant diversity and opportunity, and because of that we hope to have the support of every person of every ethnicity and every background.”
The Inquisitr attempted to reach the restaurant’s management via phone for comment but was unable to contact anyone. Attempts to leave a message seeking a statement were unsuccessful, as the restaurant’s voicemail was full.
Update: Kelley commented on the incident on Facebook Monday afternoon. His post was accompanied by videos that showed a greater portion of the events that unfolded.
“While I would like to apologize to the patrons who I offended by my poor choice of wording, I think this full story and a bit of video may help your understanding of the final straw with guests addressed and asked to leave.
When the first incidents occurred the guests were politely asked to stop and have respect for themselves and other customers.
The guests at issue were at three (3) tables. As this video shows you will see guests spoken to politely and literally begged to stop standing on our furniture and twerking. There are other videos that show much more of the behavior in the following videos but we do not want to embarrass the guests sitting at those tables.”
Kelley’s statement continued, with him recalling his immediate concerns about a woman who stood on her seat to twerk was for her safety, given the potential injuries she could incur from falling through a glass window. His second reaction was “enough is enough.”
“After already addressing this behavior twice, these customers no longer deserved the courtesy of kindness I expressed in the earlier encounters as it was met with disrespect and intentionally ignored. This is why they were told to leave,” he said.
Kelley stood fast on the idea that no guest has the right to come into his business “home” and stand on the furniture.
“As for twerking being a part of our culture, we do not welcome the part of the culture that will come into a restaurant, stand on furniture and twerk while using “culture” as an excuse. Would you accept this for your home? As yourself if you would do this at any other restaurant you frequent?”