South Carolina bar manager allegedly fired for refusing to dump black employees because owner wanted a whiter crowd
Former Moosehead Saloon manager Josh Sutton in picture provided to The State

The Five Points nightlife area in Columbia, South Carolina is reeling from a racial discrimination scandal at a local hotspot, The State reported Saturday.


The Moosehead Saloon on Devine Street has been receiving negative online reviews and negative social media commentary after a major shakeup at the bar.

Josh Sutton, the Moosehead Saloon's former manager, said he was canned after refusing to fire black employees in an attempt for a whiter crowd.

Sutton claims the bar owner told him the business was becoming "too dark."

“He was like ‘you don’t have the people in the bar that I want in the bar,’” Sutton said. “There was no need to carry on the conversation anymore. … I told him I’m not going to fire anybody because of their skin color. You’re going to have to fire me if you want that done.”

The conversation reportedly occurred after the owner sent Sutton a text message saying “whatever is happening to the crowd shift, I want it to stop now. It’s gone too far. I will bring in a entire need (new) staff if needed.”

The owner then fired Sutton and the entire staff, including nine black bouncers and three black bartenders. They were told they could fill out applications to get their jobs back.

None of the black employees have returned to work.

The Moosehead Saloon is owned by Matt Shmanske, who also owns Thirsty Parrot, Latitude 22, Vista and Burger 77 Tavern.

"In a 2017 social media post, Shmanske called Sutton a member of his 'dream team' and part of the 'hardest working staff' he knew," The State reported.

Scmanske did not respond to "several requests for comment from The State."