Clifford Harris, better known as Grammy-winning Atlanta rapper and former restaurateur T.I., is one of a few famous names leading a boycott against local outposts of national steakhouse chain Houston’s. Tip and his fellow protestors claim the restaurants racially profile patrons and discriminate against African-American diners.
“Okay, so I've heard four different stories from four different sources about discrimination against us at two separate Houston’s Steakhouse locations in my city,” the rapper wrote in an Instagram post over the weekend. “Tomorrow we get answers.” He finished the post with the clever hashtag, #HoustonsWeHaveAProblem.
Rapper Rick Ross joined the boycott, stemming from allegations made by actress Ernestine Johnson, who claims she was denied service at Houston’s Lenox Road location. A demonstration was held outside the restaurant on Sunday. Johnson says Houston’s has not attempted to rectify the situation, and, “We are not finished at all.”
If you don't STAND for something you will FALL for anything. Period! Yesterday we set an example of what it looks like when we UNIFY. When we REMIND people how much POWER we possess and how OUR dollars keep this city's establishments in business. . You have to TEACH people how to TREAT you. Disrespect, disregard and discrimination of ANY form will not be tolerated in this city! If you don't understand the message SEEK the KNOWLEDGE! . . Super big thank you to my fam @troubleman31 for answering the call to action and always representing & standing up for the city! @debra4mizay @yandysmith @richforever @majorgirl @jennysdrake and everyone else who let their voice be heard yesterday and answered our call we salute you! My man @mrjaymorrison is a true leader and we will continue to lead by EXAMPLE. . . This is bigger than us! @houstonslenox never tried to contact any of us to apologize or speak about the issue like any other civilized business would have! Nor have they addressed any of the other COUNTLESS of tasteless occurrences that have taken place. We are not finished at all. #HoustonsWeStillHaveAProblem
A representative for Hillstone Restaurant Group tells Eater Atlanta Johnson’s party was refused service because of “aggressive” behavior.
“Last Friday afternoon, a large party requested a table at our restaurant on Lenox Road,” the representative says. “Our only two large tables were occupied at the time and this party was unwilling to wait. Instead of waiting as other guests would have been asked to do, members of this group became aggressive to our staff and disruptive to our guests’ dining experience. As a result, this group was denied service and asked to leave the restaurant.”
But, this isn’t the first time Houston’s has been at the center of similar racism allegations. In 2015, a local attorney sued Hillstone Restaurant Group, Houston’s parent company, claiming he and other people of color were asked to leave the Peachtree Road location on multiple occasions.