Restaurant workers at San Francisco’s Swan Oyster Depot called two Asian customers “dim sum” last Friday, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Tin Dinh posted about the incident at Swan Oyster Depot on Instagram Friday.
Dinh was waiting in line outside the restaurant with his sister and his boyfriend. After about one and a half hours they attempted to speak to one of the team members, Jimmy Sancimino, about their order.
“Immediately, Jimmy was super rude to us and walked away even though we hadn’t finished ordering,” Dinh wrote in his post. “Confused by this we kept waiting patiently until we were helped by another staff.”
Tinh said they told Sancimino they had ordered more things with another waiter when he returned. Sancimino, whose family owns the restaurant, told Tinh that customers are supposed to only order with one waiter.
“At this moment, I’ll admit I might not have understood the restaurant’s service style, but it was my first time there and there was no need to be rude,” Tinh wrote in his post.
Tinh says Sancimino pointed at him and his sister, shouting, “Dim Sum! Dim Sum!”
Sancimino confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle that he used the phrase but denied that doing so was racist. He says the restaurant uses the phrase to refer to customers who order from more than one waiter, which he claims is common at a dim sum restaurant.
“We have a little saying in here when people want more than one person to wait on them at once. We say it’s like a dim sum restaurant (where) you can have 10 different waitresses come by and drop off food at your table. But that’s not the way it works here,” Sancimino told The San Francisco Chronicle. “Unfortunately this man (and) young lady took it the wrong way. I’m terribly sorry about it. But they obviously were in more of a rush and they wanted better service than I could provide.”
Tinh, however, says Sancimino did not direct the phrase at his boyfriend who is white. He also questioned why the restaurant needed to use a dish from a different culture to refer to the behavior of their customers.
“Why not just say ‘help’ or another word that does not involves someone else’s culture?” Tinh wrote in his post.
On Monday, Steve Sancimino, Jimmy’s older brother, told the San Francisco Chronicle the incident was a “non-issue.” But Tinh’s post has gone viral and the restaurant was flooded with negative reviews on Yelp. Their Yelp page is currently frozen.
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