Yesterday Alternet.org asked if Fourth Street Live's Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge was "The Most Racist Restaurant in America?". The "alternative news and information" outlet was referencing an article posted on the Courthouse News Service, "a nationwide news service for lawyers and the news media":
The Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge "demanded to know the ratio of 'black people' to 'white people'" who planned to attend a public event, then denied entrance to every black person who showed up, a man claims in court.
Andre Mulligan sued Louisville Bourbon LLC dba Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge, of Louisville, and Cordish Operating Ventures, of Baltimore, Md., in Jefferson County Court.
Cordish operates the 4th Street Live venue in Louisville, where Maker's Mark runs a restaurant. Both "provide accommodations to the public," Mulligan says in his complaint.
Just because a lawsuit is filed, of course, it doesn't mean there's any merit to the claim. Mulligan's position is stated in his suit. (UPDATE Dec. 22, 7:47 a.m. Read the entire lawsuit on the Baltimore Sun's website.) Here's what Coridsh and Maker's Mark Lounge are saying
(executive summary: not much yet):
·A representative in Cordish's Fourth Street Live office declined comment before this article was first published, saying that, contrary to the aforementioned articles, Cordish is not a party in the lawsuit.
·A representative at Maker's Mark Lounge referred all questions to the restaurant's general manager, Liz Hazelwood, who won't be in until 4 p.m. today. UPDATE 4:20 p.m. A message was left with her at 4:18 p.m. (wanted to give her time to get settled). It has not yet been returned.
·UPDATE 5:09 p.m. Ashley Miller, a spokesperson for Cordish at its Baltimore headquarters, responded to repeated requests for comment with this statement from Mike Leonard, Fourth Street Live spokesperson, "This is a matter between a third party tenant and an individual. Neither Fourth Street Live! nor The Cordish Company nor any of their employees were involved in the alleged situation. The tenant has vigorously denied the allegations and stated they are totally false. In addition, we have conducted an independent investigation of the allegations and believe them to be without merit."
·UPDATE 1:10 p.m. Maker's Mark, the bourbon, not the lounge, released a statement via its website [H/T The Ville Voice]:
Dear Maker's Mark Friends
We wanted to share our response to media stories regarding the Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge. Be assured that Maker's Mark will take the appropriate actions in this situation.
Maker's Mark licenses its name and trademark to a third party appointed by Cordish Operating Ventures, LLC, which is solely responsible for the ownership, operation and management of the Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge in Louisville Kentucky. Maker's Mark has no ownership or involvement in the Lounge whatsoever. Maker's Mark was unaware of the complaint filed by Andre Mulligan against the Lounge until it was covered in the media and, contrary to a published report, no one from Maker's Mark has had any dealings with Mr. Mulligan.
"The allegations in the complaint are extremely serious and, if true, reflect behavior that is abhorrent and unacceptable, as well as absolutely contrary to the core brand values of Maker's Mark. Maker's Mark does not accept, and will not tolerate, discrimination in any form, and has so notified and warned the company which is solely responsible for the operation of the Lounge. While not involved in the litigation, Maker's Mark will continue to monitor the situation closely and will take all actions it feels necessary under the circumstances."
Bill Samuels, Jr.
Chief Operating Officer
So, um developing?
UPDATE 4:40 p.m. This episode is not the first time Maker's Mark Lounge has been accused of a racist door policy. According to a Louisville Courier-Journal article, in October 2009, Kiersten Trover-Gillam, "the former director of promotions and marketing for Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge at 4th Street Live has sued the bar, claiming she was instructed by management to discriminate against African-American patrons."
UPDATE Dec. 22, 7:22 a.m. This episode is not the first time a Louisville man named Andre Mulligan has taken disputes to the legal system. According to CompEd, "a Kentucky non-profit corporation dedicated to the educational and informational needs of the workers compensation system of Kentucky," "in a March 25, 2008 decision, Hon. James L. Kerr, Administrative Law Judge ('ALJ') rejected Andre Mulligan's ('Mulligan') claim for permanent partial disability benefits against McDonalds. The ALJ limited Mulligan's award to a period of temporary total disability and medical benefits." And per WDRB, "Andre' Mulligan has filed a complaint with the Professional Standards Unit of LMPD" in September 2012, claiming "he was beaten by at least two Metro Police officers." A voice mail measage, seeking to confirm if the Mulligan filing suit against Maker's Mark Lounge is the same Mulligan involved in these other disputes was left at 8:03 a.m. for Kurt A. Scharfenberger, the Louisville attorney representing Mulligan in the lawsuit. It has not yet been returned. [H/T to our commenters]
·Louisville makes national news again, but not in a good way [Louisville Hot Bytes]
·Fourth Street Live dress code may soon change after complaints [WHAS 11]
[Photo: Courtesy Facebook/Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge]