Lunch Box patron reports spit in drink

[subtitle]Local NAACP president warns of hate crimes[/subtitle]

The Lunch Box is a popular spot for breakfast and lunch.  Photo by St. Clair Murraine

The Lunch Box is a popular spot for breakfast and lunch.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

Justin Dillard

Justin Dillard


By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

While it’s not clear how to define a reported incident of a restaurant employee saying that he spat in a customer’s drink, the president of the Tallahassee chapter of the NAACP didn’t hesitate to issue a warning that Blacks need to be cognizant of hate crimes.
Dale Landry, the out-going president of the NAACP, said the incident that Justin Dillard said happened to him at the Lunch Box, is similar to others that have been reported since Donald Trump was elected president two weeks ago.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, said there has been a huge spike upward since the election. At least 700 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation have been reported, the SPLC says on its website.
“We’ve got to be careful and mindful,” Landry said. “This is a new time. It’s brought some people to do some things that we normally would not see people do.
“It’s a practice we’ve known from the past.”
According to Dillard’s account of what happened in the restaurant, he heard his waiter telling one of his coworkers “I spit in his drink.” The waiter, also asked him, “was the food nasty?” and that gave him a bad feeling about what might have happened to his drink.
Dillard said he arrived at the restaurant just before closing and he witnessed only the waiter and a cook in the restaurant, while the manager was outside of the building. He said at first he thought the waiter was being funny, but he later began to get a bad feeling about what he’d experienced.
So much so that he didn’t report to work at Live Communications, Inc, the parent company of the Capital Outlook, the next day.
“Some people may think this is an isolated incident, but I take it very seriously,” Dillard said. “Some people say, ‘oh, well’ and go on but when people start spitting in someone’s food or things like that, who knows.”
However, Dillard said he didn’t report the incident to manager Denver Raney until two days later. Raney said she would have liked to have known of the incident the same day so that she could take it up with the employee.
She also said she would attempt to get Dillard and the waiter together so that her employee could apologize to him, although she felt that it would be her employee’s word against what Dillard reported.
Raney said what she heard of the incident is out of character for the employee, who she described only by the first name, Austin.
“The young man said that Austin said, ‘was that nasty.’ I didn’t hear it,” Raney said. “I was sitting right here. He also said he said he spit in his drink I didn’t hear it, either.”
Raney said whether what Dillard said is true or not, she doesn’t condone improper service to her customers. She mentioned that she recently had to reprimand another employee who addressed a Black customer as, ‘Yo mama.”
“I don’t care if she is Black, White, Japanese, Chinese, European,” Raney said. “Don’t say ‘Yo mama to my customers.’”
On the same day that Dillard reports his experience to Raney, he also reported it to a Tallahassee police officer, he said. The officer told him he didn’t have a case because it’s a civil matter and there were no witnesses.
Dillard said he also filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Health. He also plans to take a blood test this week, Dillard said.
Dillard said he decided to go public with what happened because he believes it’s the right thing to do.
“If it were to be turned the other way around,” he said, “there would be a reaction.”