Customers claim racial discrimination after being asked to pay first before dining at DC restaurant

- A restaurant in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood is being criticized for what some customers say is racial discrimination.

A group of about 20 African Americans customers went to dine at Ming’s Restaurant at around 1 a.m. Thursday and said they were told about a new policy – pay before you eat.

Their server told them they had to pay before eating because they have had instances where customers would leave without paying. That is when one of the women from the group approached a group of white customers also eating at the restaurant.

"I asked them, ‘Were you all asked to pay in advance?’ And they all replied at one time, 'No.’” customer Giovanni Fletcher said. “I have been there before previously, but never in a large group of multiple of African Americans, so I just felt violated a little bit.”

A video posted on Instagram by one of the diners accused the restaurant of being racist. In the video, you can hear the customer say, “Excuse me, can you explain to me why we have to pay in advance for our food?”

Most of the people in the group got up and left, but some stayed and paid in advance for their meals.

Hai Shieh, the manager of the restaurant, said they have no such policy of requiring anyone to pay before eating.

“Ming's Restaurant would never, ever treat customers like that,” he said. “That’s one of the most important things. We would love to have customers always coming back and not having them to pay upfront. This is just unacceptable to me. I would definitely have a meeting and talk with all the servers just to give them a message not to let this happen ever.”

There is no law in D.C. prohibiting restaurants from charging in advance for meals.

As for the waitress who served the customers, Shieh said he has no knowledge of her being reprimanded, but is still looking into the incident.

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