BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Black mother and son turned away at a Baltimore restaurant have now filed a lawsuit.

WJZ’s Paul Gessler was with a group of protesters back again outside Atlas group restaurants this week and explained how the restaurant group is defending itself.

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The story started as many do now — with a cell phone video showing the incident the restaurant group itself called “incredibly disturbing, painful, embarrassing and hurtful.”

But now their lawyer is defending the dress code’s implementation and criticizing the mother.


In the video, managers at Ouzo Bay citing a dress code as the reason Marcia Grant and her 9-year-old son Dallas were denied a table last month.

“Unfortunately, we do have a dress code. If you have some non-athletic shorts…” the manager can be heard saying.

“But that white kid out there can with his athletic shorts on and his athletic shirt?” Grant asks.

That video led to managers being fired, multiple protests, lawmakers calling for public hearings and boycotts and now a lawsuit allegeding Grant and her son were turned away solely because of the color of their skin.

“I can only imagine it was based on the fact that Dallas was Black,” said Grant on Good Morning America last week.

Atlas lawyers described it as “an orchestrated media tour.”

It should be noted Grant declined multiple interview requests from WJZ.

“There’s a pattern and practice of discrimination with Atlas,” State Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore) said in an op-ed.

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Carter said she’s seen what she describes as similar discriminatory practices of the group’s dress code policies.

Democratic nominee for mayor Brandon Scott called the incident “outright racist.”

The restaurant group is demanding a public apology from both of them.

The full response is below, including multiple statements from employees and vendors.

Atlas’ attorney said the Grants were not discriminated against and the dress code was applied equally to them, even linking to the J Crew “khaki-style” shorts apparently worn by the white child in the video who was served.

They provided multiple surveillance pictures of other Black patrons dining at Ouzo Bay that same day as evidence. They said they don’t discriminate.

The Grants are seeking $150,000 in damages.

Read the full lawsuit:

Atlas has lifted dress codes at two of its establishments and said they won’t enforce dress codes to kids 12 and younger.

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Another protest is underway in downtown Baltimore Friday evening. Protesters are vocal and asking those inside not to dine here.

Paul Gessler