Restaurant chain Pizza Hut has apologised to six black footballers after they were told by staff to pay for their food before eating because of "the way they look".
The AFC Bournemouth players were asked by to pay for their £5.99 all-you-can-eat buffet meals after ordering. The group refused after noticing a group of white youths who arrived after them had not been asked to do so and the restaurant called the police.
Pizza Hit has apologised to the players, who included first-team regulars Anton Robinson, Liam Feeney and Marvin Bartley. Midfielder Robinson told The Daily Mail that they asked if the request was restaurant policy. "The manager] said ‘no'. When we asked why he had asked us, he said: ‘It's the way you look.'"
A spokesman for Pizza Hut said it had recently introduced a policy of asking certain customers to pay in advance, but this was at the discretion of staff. He said that police had recommended asking people to pay for their meal before dining following a number of incidents where customers had left without paying.
"We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, so immediately investigated this incident. While our duty manager's actions were absolutely not racially motivated, we are very sorry for the way this was handled," he added.
A spokesman for Dorset Police confirmed officers attended the Bournemouth branch of Pizza Hut after receiving a complaint from the restaurant about disruptive customers.
By Janie Stamford
E-mail your comments to Janie Stamford here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs