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After Complaint, Casino Defends Soul Food-Themed MLK Day Menu

Meant to honor the slain leader, it rubbed more than a few people the wrong way.

David Brooks/Flickr

Martin Luther King Jr. stood for civil rights, progress, peace, and — fried chicken? At least that's what Atlantic City's Borgata casino pitched to diners yesterday when it introduced a $24 prix fixe menu meant to honor Dr. King. The menu was on offer all day at the Metropolitan, a casual restaurant that serves "contemporary and classic American cuisine." At least one diner took issue with the prix fixe menu: Shaun Deeb snapped a photo of the menu and tagged it on Twitter "#isitracist," leading to a lengthy Twitter discussion as to whether the menu was racially insensitive.

Borgata spokesperson and senior vice president Joe Lupo told the Associated Press that the restaurant's manager "chose menu items that were among King's favorite foods, as documented in numerous historical sources."

Lupo further explained, "Our general manager of the restaurant is an African-American female who wanted to come up with the menu to celebrate and honor Dr. King. We allow our managers to run their restaurants. She did research and came up with an authentic recipe. It's very clear these were his favorite foods." Indeed, the AP was able to find evidence supporting this statement: Among King's favorite foods were fried chicken, collard greens, and black-eyed peas.

Clearly, this was no misunderstanding, but Borgata has gotten itself into hot water before. Last year, a server at Bobby Flay Steak — which is one of the fine dining options at the casino hotel — allegedly misinformed a diner about the price of a bottle of wine: When told the wine was "thirty-seven fifty," the diner assumed it cost a little over $35, when in fact the wine was $3,750.