Carmine’s Hostess Speaks Out: ‘I Would Never Call Anyone a Racial Slur’

The hostess on the left made her first statement since the altercation. Still image taken from Carmine’s surveillance camera footage.

By Carol Tannenhauser

She is known publicly only as “the hostess,” a 24-year-old woman allegedly attacked by three female tourists from Texas on September 16 at Carmine’s restaurant on 91st and Broadway. The altercation involved vaccination cards and claims of a racial slur. The Texans were arrested.

On Tuesday, October 5, they returned to the city for their arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, as their Desk Appearance Tickets had ordered. Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 44, Sally Rechelle Lewis, 49, and Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, 21, were charged with assault in the third degree, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail, and attempted assault and harassment. All pleaded not guilty. They are due back in court on November 18.

The details of the case have emerged and changed over time, supported by Carmine’s surveillance video footage. The three women had been seated inside the restaurant when they were told that their friends had arrived without vaccination cards. (NYC’s vaccination mandate for indoor dining had gone into full effect earlier that week.)

Carmine’s owner said that the women repeatedly asked for their friends to be seated inside anyway, and were incensed when the staff would not let them sit.

One video clip shows the hostess walking from an indoor area back outside, and the Texans spinning around and following. Once outside, one of the women pushed into the hostess. A brawl ensued.

The hostess suffered a concussion.

Why the altercation started is the question. The defense attorney claims the hostess uttered a racial slur to the Texans.

“The hostess suffered a concussion, extensive bruising and scratches on her face….One defendant allegedly yanked off her necklace, breaking it and leaving a laceration, court papers allege,” according to the New York Post.

The hostess was not at the arraignment — a crime victim is not required to be there by law. But she sent the following statement, through her attorney, to West Side Rag.

On September 16th, I was working as a hostess at Carmine’s. The law requires us to check whether people are vaccinated. I did my job in order to protect my co-workers and the other customers from the possibility of getting the COVID virus. The accusation stating that I said a racial slur is unbelievable. I am a Korean immigrant, I was born in Seoul, Korea. I have the utmost respect for all BIPOC. I would never call anyone a racial slur. People lying about that is even worse than being physically assaulted. I want to make sure that neither myself nor my fellow co-workers are attacked again for trying to protect ourselves and our customers from the COVID virus.

West Side Rag has attempted to contact an attorney for one of the women, but has not heard back.

NEWS | 46 comments | permalink
    1. GG says:

      For the last couple of years we have all been told to “Believe All Women” so what do we do here??

      Personally, I believe the hostess. I mean, come on!

      Since the pandemic started we have seen an alarming rise in unprovoked assaults and worse against Asian Americans in this country. If this was racially motivated it was more likely the other way around.

      The idea that the hostess just casually threw out one of the most offensive racial epithets like that is almost laughable. More like some sleazy lawyer was just reaching for straws.

      • Bob says:

        You’re supposed to believe women if they tell you about sexual abuse or the like. Sex has no role in this story.

        No one is saying that if a woman walks up and tells you the moon is made of matzoh, you have to conclude that Apollo 11 was a hoax… because how would you land a spacecraft on a matzoh ball?

      • Pete says:

        Idiotic comment. This is probably a 1% incident which does not involve a male. No need for the sexist remark. And I am male

      • Kate says:

        “For the last couple of years we have all been told to “Believe All Women””

        Nope. That was never the slogan. The word “all” was added in by a right-wing smear campaign.

        There’s a good article on this topic by the Washington Post titled “‘Believe Women’ was a slogan. ‘Believe All Women’ is a straw man.”

      • Katha Pollitt says:

        The slogan is “Believe women,” not “Believe all women.” It means take women’s claims of sexual harassment and assault seriously. The default should not be “women lie,” which is what it often is right now.
        But as has been noted, this case has nothing to do with sexual harassment or assault.

      • TravelgalNYC says:

        If you watch the full video, at the end the Carmine’s manager asks one Texas woman, “What happened?” and the Texas woman replies that the hostess, “Kept moving up on us!” The manager asked again, what exactly happened and the Texas woman says the same thing, “She kept moving up on my friend!” There is NO mention of racial epithet. If the Texas women want to play the race card, then we could say that they bullied and attacked an hostess because she was ‘Asian. Attacks on Asians are also rampant, mostly because the attackers believe Asians are docile and will not fight back or stand up for themselves. They thought wrong here!

    2. Truth and Reason says:

      Here’s the thing: She either did or did not call them a slur. But either way, it doesn’t change whether they’re guilty. Stop looking at the shiny object, people.

    3. Frank Grimes says:

      If “They called me a name, so I pummeled them” is a valid defense, this country is in serious trouble…..

    4. Sigh says:

      I support the hostess and Carmine’s 100%. In fact, I would applaud them if they filed suit against the attackers or their lawyer who made that accusation of the racial slur. As an attorney, you better make sure you get the facts straight before you casually accuse a victim on behalf of your client. As if restaurants and their staff needed any more stress.

    5. Marky says:

      “On Tuesday, October 5, they returned to the city for their arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, as their Desk Appearance Tickets had ordered.”

      I guess those that many were too quick to judgement over whether they would appear.

      • aj says:

        thank you for pointing this out

      • Crankypants says:

        Of course they came back. It’s part of their strategy to claim Victimhood. The countdown to their appearance on Dr Phil begins…
        Support Carmine’s and this young woman so obviously being gaslighted.

        • Marky says:

          First they were accused of planning not to appear for their arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, as their Desk Appearance Tickets had ordered.

          Now they are accused of planning for an appearance on Dr. Phil.

    6. JK says:

      Even if the hostess used a racial slur (which indeed would have been horrible), it still would not have justified this physical attack.

      That said – I doubt the claims that a racial slur was used. The hostess’ immediate colleagues were Black and Latinx, and moreover the attackers never even mentioned the racial slur to police or anyone until way after the attack. Sounds like they are trying to make an excuse.

      Also – it irks me that BLM immediately did a public protest at Carmine’s with such an unsubstantiated claim. I am with the BLM movement – but this is plain irresponsible.

    7. Anonymous says:

      ALL lives matter.

      • Josh says:

        If you truly believed that, you wouldn’t have to say it AND you would support BLM because the whole premise is that black lives are shown to not matter as much in American society and BLM’s goal is to get us to the point where black lives matter just as much as white lives. If a house was on fire, should the fire department spray water on every house in the neighborhood, or should they focus on the house which is burning? But reporting with “ALL lives matter” is simply (no longer) thinly veiled racism. So please, either prove that you really mean that all lives matter, or say what you actually mean mean and stop pretending.

        • Chris says:

          Well said. Anonymous is racist.

          • sg says:

            Nonsense…I agree with Anonymous. BLM thinks they have the morally authority to judge our society while abdicating any responsibility for the devastating damage they did to cities with all the “protests” last year.

            • RL says:

              what devastating damage? I don’t think one nite of some hoodlum vandals counts as devastating.

        • blacklikeu says:

          Much ado your writing about nothing.
          BLM and YLM and WLM and RLM and…..
          You better believe that ALL LIVES MATTER, and it is NOT racist to say so.

          • Josh says:

            Using All Lives Matter as a response to Black Lives Matter is NOT actually saying that all lives matter. It is an antagonistic statement used to negate the statement that black lives matter. Yes, all lives do matter, but the “All Lives Matter” tagline is not literal. There is a meaning behind it. Think about it – if the Treasury stopped making pennies, and a group started protesting saying “Pennies Matter,” and counterprotesters chanted “No, all coins matter” only in response to “Pennies Matter.” And, had the express purpose of drowning out the calls of the supporters of the penny, would you really believe the counterprotesters were actually being literal and actually believed that pennies mattered as much a nickels, dimes, and quarters? Come on, man. Get off the brainwashed bandwagon and use your common sense. It is one thing to object to rioting, but it is another to reject the turmoil that led to the riots in the first place.

            • Josh says:

              Actually, reject the turmoil isn’t the right statement- negate the pain and suffering is a better description.

            • blacklikeu says:

              Actually Black Lives Matter is a wonderful slogan.
              I just wish that the BLM honchos will try to protect the Black lives in the inner cities of NY, Chicago, and all others.
              Seems that Black Lives Matter a lot when it’s a conflict with the white folks, mostly, the police.
              But Black Lives do not Matter that much when it is Black on Black violence and murder.
              Indeed, Black Lives Matter, but above this is ALL LIVES MATTER.

            • Peter says:

              What are you so agitated about? An Asian woman was the one attacked. Instead of preaching generalities about BLM (or some impostor of BLM) – which has nothing whatsoever to do with this situation – how about you mention that that one Asian life matters, too?

          • Zoe says:

            @blacklikeu – I completely agree. You have to make the presupposition that BLM translates as: Black lives are disproportionately profiled, incarcerated and killed by Police . Full Stop. Otherwise the slogan is just plain asinine, but indicative of how polarized we are when we are throwing around the word ” racist” every time someone voices ” where is BLM when in the black communities , blacks are also being victimized? ” THOSE Black lives matter also. It is not a racist statement, necessarily/intrinsically. But BLM’ers and those who support them could argue (and perhaps rightfully so) that such statements diminish the argument that “blacks” aren’t getting the same justice as some other folks.

    8. James says:


      Hope those Texans spend a fortune on airfare between Texas & NYC & that the serve some time in jail.

    9. UWSConcerned says:

      It will be interesting to see if the NY courts punish the attackers.

    10. jezbel says:

      I, for one, believe her. Her argument makes sense.
      That aside – violence is NEVER the answer.

    11. End Fossil Fuels Now says:

      Hillary Clinton said it best: “I would say that everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence.”

      • Jake van Hoensbroek says:

        “everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence.” In other words if some one makes an accusation, you are guilty until proven innocent? That is not the way our system works.

      • RK says:

        I believe that you are a witch, and that must be disproved by one of the well-accepted witch detection methods. You know, like throwing you in the river and seeing if you float (witches float). If you drown, congratulations you’re exonerated (but unfortunately dead too)

        I wish this were fiction. One of the best reasons for “innocent until proven guilty”

      • Mary says:

        Kinda like how “believe all women” was the rule when the accused was Trump or Brett K, but that morphed into “well-l-l believe some women kinda sometimes but not now” when the accused was Biden.

      • Valerie says:

        That a girl Hill!

    12. Anon says:

      I’m not generally a praying person but I truly do pray that the three Texan women can find it in their hearts to realize they were wrong to physically attack the hostess, and to really reflect on what one of them heard…it doesn’t seem likely to me that someone *at work* would call a customer that word. It’s much more likely that the Texan misheard “dinner.”

    13. Steve says:

      Some of you are so disrespectful and sarcastic, regardless of what was said to the 3 woman from Texas does NOT give them the right to physically abuse the woman who was doing her job and following the law.

    14. Arlene Mehlman says:

      I am an avid civil rights/black lives matter, etc.supporter. I have worked with OEO and Urban League. I am very disappointed that Black Lives Matter is defending disrespectful customers because they are black. Black Lives Matter would help Black people much more by encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

    15. David says:

      The proof of vaccination policy was clearly stated at the restaurant. And the three women, or for that matter any customer or would be customer should have the sense of community and civic responsibility to abide by the rule. If the Mayor of our city had any backbone, he would have pushed for the disregard for indoor dining vaccination card requirements to be a criminal offense punishable by court appearance and a painful fine.

    16. Ellen says:

      Well this is an example of why white males have been in charge since anyone can remember. If we keep doing this, they win.

    17. John Bonhomme says:

      Hey Texans. No steers to wrestle with here in NYC. Just you’re everyday old BS.

    18. jimbo says:

      Hey Rag–have a sense of humor….