By Carol Tannenhauser
Security camera footage sent to West Side Rag by a spokesperson for Carmine’s restaurant (91st & Broadway) shows the moment when a dispute last Thursday got physical.
The story, which has gone national, involves a group of nine people who showed up to eat at the restaurant early Thursday evening. Six were seated inside after showing their vaccine cards to employees. But three men who arrived afterwards did not have the cards, and were not permitted to enter the restaurant as per NYC’s vaccination mandate, according to Jeffrey Bank, Carmine’s owner.
Some of the women who had been seated inside came out.
“When the group of three men were unable to provide vaccination proof, our hosts informed their friends seated inside, and the already seated guests came out at different times to argue with our staff and try to get our staff to violate New York law even though the men could not produce vaccination proof along with identification, as New York law requires,” Bank said in a statement.
At the end of the video that follows, you can see a nearly imperceptible interaction between the hostess and one of the customers, after which the customer and two others spin on their heels and follow the hostess back outside. Shortly after, the fight erupts.
What ignited the explosion? According to Justin Moore, the lawyer for three women of whom were arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief for their part in the melee — the hostess uttered a racial slur. According to the hostess, she said something like, “Enjoy your dinner.”
To support their version, Carmine’s spokesperson also sent WSR a video that ran in the New York Post. That tape has audio and you can hear a manager, who is Black, ask the Texas women what happened, after the fight had been broken up. “She kept walking up on us,” one customer responded, referring to the hostess. “None of the women say that anyone, let alone the hostess…uttered a racial slur,” the Carmine’s spokesperson wrote.
“This video footage makes clear that the women’s Texan criminal defense attorney is heaving falsehoods to try to get his clients off the hook for their attack,” Bank said. “It also makes clear Carmine’s staff acted appropriately and professionally. When my employees mess up, I hold us accountable. But when our employees are attacked, I will defend them to the limit.”
We still have not heard back from Moore, the lawyer for the customers. In an earlier statement to The New York Times, he characterized the event as follows, “The hostess begins spouting out derogatory comments, and speaking with two of the women; they claim that the N-word is being spewed out…”
Moore called the altercation “mutual combat.”
The three women arrested were given Desk Appearance Tickets, instructing them to appear in court on October 5.