Famous French restaurant L'Avenue is known for its celebrity sightings (it's a fave of Kim Kardashian and Rhianna) and its top model clientele. During Paris Fashion Week, it's the place to eat and be seen.
But recently, the restaurant has come under investigation for reportedly having a system in place to ensure they keep out Arabs and veiled clients from their restaurant. BuzzFeed News, which is leading the investigation, spoke with four servers who previously worked at L'Avenue for many years, one of whom was working there until quite recently.
The ex-employees say that management routinely ordered them not to take reservations for people with Arab-sounding names, and that if an Arab-looking family show up looking for a reservation, they are to say they are full, even if they are not. Claims state the restaurant also keeps a list of international codes so that staff can see where the person is calling from.
According to one of the servers, manager, Alexandre Denis, used to say that he would rather have two beautiful blondes seated in the prime outdoor area just drinking coffee, than have wealthy veiled women in their place, even if they will order a lot more.
To ensure this no veil policy, the restaurant reportedly goes to extremes: If a veiled woman shows up, having made the reservation through her hotel, online or on the phone, they are to deny the booking ever existed, and if the woman still insists on being seated, they seat her upstairs – a depressing, ambiance-less place that is, predictably, always empty.
In 2007, French documentary Dans La Peau d'un Noir (In the Skin of a Black Person), a restaurant is accused of not seating black people on its main floor. Buzzfeed determined that that restaurant is also L'Avenue.
While the manager denied these accusations, saying that the restaurant has many Middle Eastern patrons and that he never gave instructions to refuse patrons, Buzzfeed News allegedly got their hands on some discriminatory messages that instruct staff what hotels not to take reservations from (usually the ones where GCC residents are guests) plus Arabic family names that have called and should they call again, be instructed the restaurant is full.