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Black Woman Tries To Take Down Restaurant After Alleging Racist Incident

Martin's Tavern

According to the City Paper, Martin’s Tavern complied with Kristi Riggs’s demands to fire the two employees in question for enforcing their policy equally. Riggs, however, remains unsatisfied.


One woman has launched a crusade against a Washington D.C. tavern, claiming employees at the establishment were racist when they asked her to adhere to a 90-minute seating policy.

The criminal act of racism? Kristi Riggs, who is black, claims a server and a manager pressured her to vacate her table after 90 minutes in compliance with their pandemic policy to keep guests moving since D.C. guidelines restrict restaurant capacity. At the time of the incident, which reportedly occurred on Feb. 26, D.C. restaurants under Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser were only permitted to operate at 25 percent capacity.

Riggs, however, compares herself to the modern-day Rosa Parks, an icon of the mid-20th century civil rights movement who was arrested for declining to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Ala.

“I was Rosa Parks at Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown,” Parks self-righteously told the Washington City Paper. “I was made to get up and leave the restaurant so that two white women could have my table.”

Riggs claims her server began to pressure her to leave as her 90 minutes began to elapse while she waited for a friend to join and extend the stay. Riggs conceded to the City Paper she was told of the 90-minute limit upon being seated, but alleges neither of the tables next to her were given notices when their time was set to expire, and is charging the Tavern of racism for needing to seat new guests, who happened to be white.

According to the local magazine, Riggs has since obtained legal counsel and demanded the owners of the Georgetown establishment adhere to a list of costly demands. The City Paper outlined Riggs’s demands below, which include a temporary shutdown despite expensive, repeated government shutdowns throughout the last 13 months, implementing racist affirmative action policies, and a major donation to scholarships for black students made in her name. Her other demands include:

  • Fire the two employees involved in the incident;

  • Close the tavern for 1 to 2 days to provide mandatory sensitivity and diversity, equity, and inclusion training to all ownership, management, and staff from a preferred list of Riggs’s suggestions;

  • Create ongoing accounts or business relationships with at least three Black-owned vendors who are food/beverage suppliers, maintenance service providers, restaurant suppliers, or marketers;

  • Provide regular management training and job placement for Howard University students enrolled in the school’s hospitality program; and

  • Make an annual contribution of at least $2,500 to the United Negro College Fund in Riggs’ name.

In a statement to the Washington City Paper, the tavern’s attorney, Thomas B. Martin, said the restaurant “has at all times worked in good faith with Ms. Riggs and her counsel to resolve this issue.” Martin, no relation to the owner, continued:

Billy Martin, Owner of Martin’s Tavern, met virtually with Ms. Riggs, listened carefully to her concerns, and had a positive discussion about charting a path forward. Even through Mr. Martin’s health crisis, he worked diligently in good faith to try to reach a resolution. However, the parties were unable to come together on the terms and wording of the joint statement Ms. Riggs requested. Nonetheless, Martin’s Tavern remains hopeful that a positive outcome may ultimately result from this matter.

According to the City Paper, Martin’s Tavern complied with Riggs’s demands to fire the two employees in question. Riggs, however, remains unsatisfied, complaining about the restaurant’s apparent inaction.

“I’m done being understanding,” she told the City Paper. “I’m done giving Martin’s Tavern the benefit of the doubt. I’m finished with that. And if I don’t get satisfaction with this, I will take my offer of goodwill off the table and we’ll handle this differently.”

What “differently” means remains unclear, but the public pressure campaign has no doubt marked the tavern as a potential target for another outbreak of routine riots by militant social justice warriors who destroyed major parts of the city last year.

The D.C. tavern is a Georgetown classic. It enjoys a rich 88-year history, having served every president from Harry Truman to George W. Bush.