A Michigan restaurant called police on a black man who complained about the taste of his food.
Maurice El-Amin summoned a server Tuesday night at Dearborn’s M Cantina to complain about a strong chemical taste that burned his mouth and throat, and another employee said the menu clearly stated the dish he ordered contained chipotle peppers, reported the Detroit Free Press.
The 48-year-old El-Amin insisted chipotle wasn’t the problem, but the server said he still had to pay for the dish even if he ordered another.
El-Amin told the employee he would not pay for that dish, and she threatened to call police on him.
He said he got up to walk away but then decided to return to his table and wait for the police to show up.
“It definitely made me apprehensive, knowing the police were coming,” El-Amin said. “There was some fear.”
Executive chef Junior Merino claims El-Amin, who’s an assistant principal at Cass Tech High School, was on his way out the door but turned around when employees said police were on the way.
“I think we could have handled it a little bit better,” Merino admitted. “Honestly, I don’t think any situation is really worth, for either side, to get to that point.”
El-Amin streamed video of his interaction with police on Facebook Live, and officers appeared to take the restaurant’s side in the dispute.
“Bad customer service is not against the law, to not pay for your food would be,” one officer says.
They told El-Amin the restaurant was not obligated to issue a refund for food after it’s been served, and one officer cited a statute about defrauding an innkeeper.
El-Amin disagreed with their interpretation of the law, but he said they were professional and courteous to him.
“Was I treated differently (by M Cantina employees) because I was an African American male?” El-Amin said. “I have no idea, but it did cross my mind,.”
Merino offered to personally apologize to El-Amin, who said he’s never eaten at a restaurant that wouldn’t exchange food or offer a refund if he was dissatisfied.
El-Amin eventually paid his $9.54 bill as police watched.
“The police … have better things to do than to send two officers to a restaurant to deal with something as trivial as this,” he said.