News: Discrimination alleged at Chloe, Suite 200 nightclubsBy John Wenzel | August 18th, 2011 | 20 comments
A Facebook group alleging racial discrimination at Francois Safieddine’s Lotus Concepts nightclubs, which include popular LoDo haunts Chloe and Suite 200, swelled to over 1,000 members this week, although a spokesperson for Lotus dismissed the claims as unwarranted and “enraging.”
The Facebook page was founded after Denver resident Kandi Brown and some friends tried to enter new club Chloe on Aug. 5 and were allegedly turned away by what Brown felt were the racially-motivated staff manning the entrance. She said white people were waved through the line while black and Hispanic people were denied entry.
“I woke up on Saturday morning after my incident and I felt so bad, my 9-year-old daughter came into my bedroom and asked what was wrong and I knew I had to get the word out,” Brown said via e-mail. “I didn’t deserve to feel like this and no one else should have to feel like this. Initially I posted it on the page “You Know You Are From Denver When…” because there are over 6,000 members of that page. One of those members suggested a page dedicated to just this and that’s how the individual page began.”
Brown has said she filed a complaint with the Department of Regulatory Agencies and is encouraging others to do the same while she gathers evidence for her case.
“I’m enraged by it, to be quite honest,” Johnny Coast, director of operations for Lotus Concepts, said Thursday. “However I’ve kept my cool thus far. I’ve been very discrete and I think PC thus far. I’ll be brutally honest with you: I’m not white, Francois’ not white, our families aren’t white. But we haven’t gone that direction. We’ve tried to keep this as professional as possible.”
Coast said his mother is Persian and Safieddine is Lebanese.
“In no manual that we’ve ever produced does it say anything about discrimination against people based on race or creed or any of those reasons,” Coast said. “We don’t do that. It’s illegal and we don’t have to do that. There are so many people that enjoy coming to our places of every race (and) color that you can imagine that we don’t even consider it.”
As of late Thursday, Lotus had not been contact by the Department of Regulatory Agencies, according to Coast.
Brown said she and her friends were dressed formally the night they tried to get into Chloe, although Coast pointed to other factors — such as having a reservation, or appearing intoxicated or aggressive — that may have led to certain groups not being allowed entry to Lotus’ clubs.
For her part, Brown would like to see an apology and a policy change.
“I would like a press release about the accusations written by the club that we get to be a part of with their explanation,” she said. “And an apology to all parties involved that night as well as what they plan to do to remedy the issue, and how they will monitor to make sure things don’t just go back to the way they were.”
“This is not news,” Coast said. “This is a couple of people that have issue with the fact they weren’t allowed into a place based on many factors, none of which had anything to do with race. It’s a bunch of trumped up, unfortunate allegations.”
John Wenzel is an executive editor of Reverb and an award-winning A&E reporter for The Denver Post. He is the author of “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” (Speck Press/Fulcrum).