MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Two Bucks Corporate on Wednesday, May 6th moved to revoke the franchise license of Two Bucks Milwaukee -- a popular bar on the city's East Side. This, after allegations of discrimination and racism that began this past weekend and culminated Tuesday night when a demonstration was held outside the bar.
Two Bucks Corporate announced its decision regarding Two Bucks Milwaukee in a statement to FOX6 News:
"Milwaukee, your voices have been heard!
After interviewing employees, customers and community activists, we have decided to revoke the franchise license of Forever Young Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Two Bucks Milwaukee.
Forever Young Enterprises will have 24 hours to cover or remove all trademarked signage and materials in and around their premises. Moving forward, we will be speaking to the landlord and local alderman to determine the most appropriate course of action.
We would like to thank the beautifully-diverse city of Milwaukee for your patience as we worked through the guidelines of our franchise agreement. We are a small family of entrepreneurs-with-a-dream and it breaks our hearts to close a Two Bucks location. However, The Two Bucks of America was built on a foundation of ethics, values, and integrity. As such, we do everything we can to tenaciously build from that foundation in the pursuit of a safe, satisfying environment for customers and employees.
From Buckers near and far, we are grateful for your support!
Chief Operating Officer"
Two Bucks closed early Tuesday night after a group showed up to protest alleged discrimination. The bar was set to hold an "open mic night" Tuesday, and the Coalition for Justice encouraged folks to show up at the bar to voice their concerns over allegations of racism.
Some were calling for a boycott of the popular East Side bar.
The group showed up at the bar Tuesday evening to voice their concerns during open mic night, but when they arrived, they were told open mic night had been cancelled. Two Bucks closed for the night.
Two Bucks on N. Murray Avenue in Milwaukee reopened on Monday after being closed for a few nights following an incident that occurred over the weekend.
Former Two Bucks employees and former customers were among those hanging posters on the East Side Sunday. They are urging the community to boycott the popular bar after a group of African-American patrons claim they experienced racism by the bar's owner.
"This is not 1965. This is 2015," Mike Wilder said.
A Facebook group encouraging the boycott had more than 2,500 "likes" by Tuesday evening.
"The bar should be closed down," Robert Redd said.
Redd is a former Two Bucks bouncer. He says he was working at the bar on Friday night, May 1st when he says the bar's owner made insensitive and racist comments.
"I was hurt," Redd said. "She made a statement 'do you stand behind blacks or do you stand behind the bar?' And I made a comment -- 'I stand behind what`s right.'"
Redd says on several occasions, he was ordered to escort African-Americans out of the bar for no apparent reason.
"There were two African-American males paying for the juke box. She wanted them out. Then she kicked out a group of African-American males stating that they were being suspicious and drinking too slow. Then the third incident -- had a group of African-American females come up. She said 'these people are not getting in my bar,'" Redd said.
FOX6 News spoke with a customer who says she was discriminated against on Friday night.
"She asked us to leave and told us that we were too ghetto to be there," the customer said.
Anye Ngwa told FOX6 News Two Bucks was his favorite bar -- so he was confused when, after ordering drinks around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, he says the bar's owner approached him and told him if he wasn't drinking, he had to leave.
"She was just kicking the blacks out, so that was pure racism to me. When she first said she was owner of the bar it really got me confused -- like owner of the bar wants to kick people out? The bar where you want to make money?" Ngwa said.
"She starts pushing all these people out the bar and the bouncers like, 'what did these people do? We didn`t see them do anything,'" former Two Bucks bartender Oval Reid said.
Reid says he was having a drink at the bar Saturday night, but he left when things became tense, as the owner started ejecting African-American customers. Hours later, Reid texted the owner that he was quitting -- and he says he wasn't the only one.
"All the bartenders walked off. Even the bouncer that was bouncing at the time -- he was a black gentleman that she hired recently and he's like 'I'm not gonna stand for this' and he walked off," Reid said.
Reid showed a text from the bar's owner to a FOX6 News crew. In it, the bar's owner apologizes, and says she understands Reid's decision to quit.
A former Two Bucks bar manager says alcohol is what has fueled the bar owner's comments. In logs he kept while working at the bar, he often noted her drinking habits. Entries include: "Lynn was very drunk, then began acting very inappropriately," "behind the bar, pouring her own drinks," "Lynn very drunk, offensive to E & K. She was unable to stand upright and drooled on herself."
While the former bar manager says he thinks the bar owner's behavior was questionable, he says he didn't think she was racist.
FOX6 News stopped by the bar on Monday and spoke with the bar's owner, Lynn Forthaus. She didn't want to comment further, saying she's sticking by a statement she issued Sunday. That statement reads:
"There was an unfortunate incident at Two Bucks late Friday, May 1st. I apologize that this occurred. It does not reflect the views of the company, owners or employees of Two Bucks. We embrace diversity and have already taken steps so this will never happen again."
Two Bucks Corporate issued this statement to FOX6 News on Tuesday. It reads:
We are intensely disappointed by the events that occurred on May 1, 2015, at our franchised Milwaukee location. We are working diligently to gather information regarding the incident. Once the information is gathered, our corporate office will take appropriate action.
It is company policy to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, fairness, and ethical conduct in all dealings with customers, suppliers, employees, independent contractors, and the public. Any racially motivated comments do not reflect the morals or values of Two Bucks and is not tolerated.
We would like to thank Milwaukee’s customers and team of employees for their support over the years; we continue to hold you all in the highest regard.
Chief Operating Officer"
The Coalition for Justice, the group that has organized demonstrations in support of Dontre Hamilton, who was shot and killed by a former Milwaukee police officer in April of 2014 in Red Arrow Park encouraged members of the community to "converge on Two Bucks" Tuesday night -- to "let them know that we will not stand for any form of discrimination or racism in Milwaukee."
"What troubled me the most was that she was so aggressive with her bigotry and her racism and those kinds of tactics should not be welcome in this city. It`s discrimination happening right here in our backyard so it`s something that we won`t stand for," Wilder said.
"We deserve to be able to come to these establishments and enjoy what they have to offer, and if they want to be a part of this city, they should be a part of providing an equal opportunity for people to be a part of their establishment," Nate Hamilton said.
"We`re just hoping to send a message to let people know that it`s not, it`s something we shouldn`t tolerate in our community," Jose Contreras said.