Falcons star, former mayor turned away from popular restaurants over dress code

ATLANTA — An Atlanta Falcons star is calling out a well-known Buckhead restaurant after he says he was refused service because of the way he was dressed.

Linebacker Grady Jarrett said he was trying to have dinner at Le Bilboquet when a manager approached him and told him he wasn’t dressed properly.

Jarrett posted about the incident on his Instagram account over the weekend.

“Not sure if I know how my dress is offensive, maybe it’s the Gucci suit, the Bussdown AP Offshore, the iced double tennis chain w an Ankh and the fact that I pulled up in my 500k RR and they felt I wasn’t fit to bless their restaurant for dinner.. I guess the other people rocking Nike sweat suits and t shirts that were already seated (as you can see in the background of the picture) n enjoying dinner were no problem.. unfortunate but I’m not going for it.. This not even my style I’m a cool guy you should ask around.. Do better @lebilboquetatlanta,” Jarrett wrote on Instagram.

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Channel 2′s Audrey Washington was in Buckhead Thursday, where Jarrett told her that he was hurt and embarrassed to be turned away. Jarrett said he was out with his girlfriend when they stopped at the restaurant for lunch.

He said before they could even order, the manger walked up.

“He came up to me and looked me up and down,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett said he was wearing a Gucci track suit worth thousands of dollars -- but that didn’t stop the manager from telling him he was not dressed according to the restaurant’s dress code and asking him to leave.

“It wasn’t a good feeling,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett pointed out that other people in the background of his photo were also wearing casual clothing.

“And the people inside the restaurant as well, but I didn’t want to invade their privacy and take pictures of them,” Jarrett said.

Martin Theis manages the restaurant. He said he was not there when Jarrett was denied service, but said all patrons are asked to follow the dress code.

“We never like upsetting people with the dress code, but it’s something that we do need to maintain,” Theis said.

The dress code reads in part that sweatpants and athletic attire are not allowed.

Last year, a similar incident happened at the same restaurant when a waiter denied basketball legend Dominique Wilkins service because he was wearing a sweatsuit.

Washington asked Jarrett if he thinks the dress code should be abolished all together.

“I don’t think it should go away,” Jarrett said. “I think consistency is the most important thing. Don’t tell me not to do something and you have other people enjoying themselves doing the same thing.”

Jarrett said he wore a similar sweatsuit to the same restaurant last week and was not asked to leave.

The restaurant issued a statement to Channel 2 Action News Thursday night, saying:

“At Le Bilboquet, we value each and every patron and their unique style. However, we have a dress code to maintain a certain standard. Our dress code (which clearly states that athletic wear is not allowed) is posted at our door, online and reiterated by our reservation team. Last spring, we relaxed our dress code to accommodate Atlanta’s more casual environment and required all staff members to undergo extensive sensitivity training. We never want to turn away guests, but we must treat all guests equally by providing a standard for everyone who wishes to dine with us. Our apologies to anyone who has ever been turned away.”

Le Bilboquet isn’t the only restaurant in Atlanta that has been criticized for its dress code enforcement. Former Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was denied service at the Capitol Grille Saturday because of her leggings.

“Odd that a restaurant in a mall parking lot turns away customers in “mall” attire. Asked if I could sit in the bar area and was told, “No.” Rules are the rules, just wonder if the woman who came in immediately after me, who I did not see come back out, was also denied service,” Bottoms tweeted.

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Jarrett is also not the only Atlanta athlete who has spoken out against Le Bilboquet.

NBA Hall of Famer and Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins posted last year a photo on Twitter after the restaurant denied him service. Wilkins believed he was turned away due to the color of his skin.

The restaurant posted a statement about their dress code but later issued an apology to Wilkins.

“We want to apologize to Mr. Wilkins for his experience at our restaurant and also for any confusion our dress code may have caused. We in no way intended for him to feel unwanted, and welcome an open dialogue with him. Our upscale dining experience and our brand’s culture is made up of multiple elements, which include our music, our food and our patrons’ attire. We continue to strive to manifest our dining experience in a way that is exciting and most importantly, inclusive.”