A viral video shows a bartender allegedly calling a customer a racial slur at Whiskey Barrel Saloon in Northwest Bakersfield, but the bar’s owner denies anything racist was said.
The incident happened last Friday night, and the video has since garnered hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook and Twitter.
The slur in question is known as ‘the w word’ to some in the Hispanic community–a derogatory term for Mexican immigrants.
The bartender is not actually seen or heard saying the slur in the video. Customers around him are heard accusing him of saying it.
Ivan Rodriguez, who shot the viral scene, said, “I didn’t catch it on video, but (the bartender) admits it in the video. (A) guy tells him, ‘you called him a ******* and the (bartender) goes, ‘yeah I did. I said it.'”
According to bar owner Richard Fidler, three Hispanic customers had their credit card declined twice. He says they were very intoxicated, and it was a $120 tab.
He says the bartender, who is his 25-year-old son Reed, did not say the slur–but instead said “want it back,” referring to the credit card.
Rodriguez responded, “(Fidler) saying he didn’t say it almost gets me more more upset because you already said it. You’re on camera saying ‘yeah I said it,’ so why are you denying it now?”
In a statement by phone, Fidler said, “this is a misunderstanding, and we apologize. But in no way did the video show the bartender saying a racial slur.”
He added, “our crowd is a melting pot, and we have employees of different ethnicities. We are not racist in any way.”
Rodriguez said, “It irks me when people say that as, ‘I’m not racist. I have friends that are Hispanic.”
Fidler says the three men still have not paid their tab, and added in a text, “we honestly feel the real story here is theft, slander, and attempted assault… We know the customer is always right, but not this time.”
Rodriguez says he’ll no longer be going to Whiskey Barrel, but he hopes this viral moment will serve more as an eye-opener.
“There will always be a person who’ll tell you nobody’s like that anymore, people don’t say those things anymore, there’s not necessarily racist people out there anymore,” Rodriguez said. “But racism does still exist.”
Fidler says his son Reed has been placed on a leave of absence from his bartending job.
We asked Fidler for surveillance footage from that night, but he said the video was recorded over.