The Strand Cafe, a Brooklyn coffee shop, has been accused of handing out Halloween candy to white kids while turning away Black kids in front of other patrons.
Those who witnessed the racist act took to Facebook to air out the cafe — prompting a wave of controversy.
“Tricks for some, treats for others,” read one sign plastered on a window Saturday, complete with a drawing of a crying pumpkin.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful when other people come into black communities and try to change the whole atmosphere of a community,” said Iman Essiet, 27, after she stopped to look at the signs. “I think this specific establishment needs to be shut down.”
The furor erupted Tuesday afternoon after Oma Holloway and Michael Catlyn, both members of Community Board 3, stopped in to the cafe for a tea and coffee.
The pair were waiting online when they saw the lone cafe worker turn away three different sets of costumed black children out trick-or-treating with adults, Catlyn said.
But a pair of white kids, with an older woman, received a much different response. The man behind the counter pulled out a glass jar of individually-wrapped cookies and eagerly doled them out, Catlyn said.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Catlyn, 54, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 32 years. “I was thinking there is no way this is happening right now.”
Catlyn said he and Holloway immediately called out the worker who tried to apologize in broken English.
The pair weren’t having it and walked out without their beverages.
Holloway posted a brief account of the incident on Facebook, prompting a wave of angry replies.
Soon the Strand’s Yelp page was inundated with one-star reviews and scathing comments.
“Get your coffee with a side of racism, apparently,” one poster wrote.
A man who identified himself as the owner eventually posted a message on Yelp, describing the incident as a misunderstanding.
The man said the cafe had nothing on-hand to give to trick-or-treaters. “If a child received an item, it was because it was purchased by a parent, not because we favor children over others,” he said. “That would be completely inappropriate as well as against our core values of decency.”
Catlyn said members of the community board had a productive Saturday meeting with the owner who told them the worker had since apologetically admitted to the act. “We’re trying to use this as a teachable moment and get a positive outcome,” he said.
You can read the cafe’s statement below, but it’s far too late.