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Jim Neumeyer, the co-owner of Beans & Barley, offers an apology to Portia Cobb and anyone in the community who has experienced “profiling or feeling unsafe or unwelcome” at his establishment.
Hearing the story of Portia Cobb and other customers experiencing profiling or feeling unsafe or unwelcome at Beans & Barley is incredibly troubling and alarming to us.
For over 40 years we have taken pride in being an establishment that listens to, empowers and gives back to our diverse community. We aspire for our business to be a safe space for all who enter its doors. In hearing that our actions have led to any to feel otherwise, we are heartbroken.
We sincerely apologize to Portia and to any others for actions or dialogue that have made her or anyone feel as though they were being profiled or discriminated against. We at Beans want to let you know that we are hearing the concerns of our customers, past and present, and we are listening.
Some time has passed since the discussion began with Portia. However, please know that this has not been a time of inaction. Rather, it has been a time of processing and reflection on how to initiate change and lay the foundation for evolution in a business that has over 100 employees and operates in and benefits from a racially diverse community.
We hope that by taking the time to work through the initial situation with our staff and management we can now emerge with clarity and in a better position to outline a path forward. We have taken a hard look at ourselves after this incident and after hearing of concerns by others and have seen that we need to be far more mindful of how something that feels “routine” to us can still affect our customers in a negative way. We take this very seriously.
It has come to light that the major failure on our part is having a system of payment that fails to protect or insulate our customers and community members from any bias, microaggression or prejudice an employee may or may not have or may or may not be aware they are expressing. From these reflections we have increased the visibility of signage regarding payments, and the management has been reiterating the need for continuity of service for all customers.
We also have been initiating conversations with diversity-training groups in a hope to update and improve our methods to better serve our diverse community. We would never be in a position to say whether a negative interaction did or did not have a racial component. The experience of the trauma of racial injustice that so often happens in this country cannot be invalidated. What we can do as a business is to listen and empathize with our customers and try our hardest to make improvements so that the experience that Portia and some others have expressed are not repeated at our establishment.
Beans has always placed a high value on being a community-minded business that embraces diversity and fosters a safe environment for all of our community members, both among our staff and our customers. We are humbled and hope that by sharing our story we can be a catalyst for conversations about how businesses in Milwaukee can remain safe and inclusive for all, honoring the diversity that makes up our beautiful city.
So, we at Beans ask that our community of customers allows us the opportunity to earn back your trust, accept our apology and give us the opportunity to serve you once again and continue to be the place we have always aspired to be.
How to reach Beans & Barley
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