PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A Portland woman is suing a restaurant on NE Alberta Street, claiming she was kicked out because of her race — but the restaurant owner told KOIN 6 News a different story.
“I cried, I’ve never been so embarrassed and humiliated in my life,” Kathleen Hampton told KOIN 6 News.
Hampton and her husband, Percy, made reservations at Enzo’s Caffe Italiano for Valentine’s Day. When her husband said he didn’t feel like going to dinner, Hampton decided she would go by herself.
“No, I’m still going because I love Italian food!” Hampton said.
The restaurant was packed — it was serving up a five-course meal in celebration of the holiday. Hampton said after being seated by herself at a table for two, no one ever came by to take her order.
“I finally said I was ready to order, she told me that she was not taking my order and I had to leave and give up my table,” Hampton said in her lawsuit.
But to Hampton, the situation wasn’t about romance and a table for two — she said, it was about race.
“I didn’t fit their decor in there,” Hampton said. “I was the only African American.”
But restaurant owner Enzo Lanzadoro vigorously disputes her claims.
“I’m Italian,” Lanzadoro said. “We have a Mexican, a Vietnamese working.”
Lanzadoro said he employs and serves customers of all races at his restaurant. He explained the restaurant was expecting a party of two that night, and when Hampton’s husband didn’t arrive, staff tried to reaccommodate her.
“The waiter came over, I’m so sorry, it’s a busy night, we need to move you to the bar because we need the other chair,” Lanzadoro said. “It’s Valentine’s night.”
Hampton, however, maintains she was never offered a seat at the bar.
“I would have sat there, I really would have,” she said. “I wouldn’t have missed that Italian meal.”
Hampton is suing Enzo’s Caffe Italiano for $100,000. She also wants an apology.
Lanzadoro said she can still come by the restaurant to work things out. He said, he would never turn a customer away.