Police report: 'Miscommunication' strained racial confrontation at Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville

  • The situation that unfolded Oct. 26 involving a multiracial group of 18 diners at Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville was "a lot of miscommunication," police said an employee there reported to them.

      The situation that unfolded Oct. 26 involving a multiracial group of 18 diners at Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville was "a lot of miscommunication," police said an employee there reported to them. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/13/2019 9:16 PM

The situation that unfolded Oct. 26 involving a multiracial group of 18 diners at Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville was "a lot of miscommunication" that "blew up by word-of-mouth," one restaurant employee said in a handwritten statement included with a report Naperville police released Wednesday evening.

The police said they found no evidence of any crimes committed when the group of 18 was asked to move away from a table of two regular customers, who were white.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But it offered a nuanced view of the situation, which has led to calls for Buffalo Wild Wings to change its policies on diversity and sensitivity and even to the involvement of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who recently met with the families involved.

Officer Ryan Suthard in the partially redacted report summarized his interview with a Buffalo Wild Wings manager the day after the incident by saying it began when the two regular customers asked if the restaurant staff could "seat the large group elsewhere since the dining room was mostly empty and there was not much room around them."

After the group was seated, the report said, a server and greeter told the group "the couple did not want to sit next to them because the couple was racist."

In interview summaries later in the report, the couple, whose names and hometowns are redacted, admit to making "comments in the past at Buffalo Wild Wings that would be considered inappropriate or racist."

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But both the man and the woman said they made no racist comments on Oct. 26. The man told police that restaurant employees "took it upon themselves to tell this large group of (redacted) that they needed to move due to (redacted) being a racist."

Police began looking into what happened when Buffalo Wild Wings contacted officers during an internal investigation to report receiving "hundreds of threatening phone calls" after news of the situation broke.

The restaurant's general manager, interviewed in the report by Detective Erin Gibler, said he would have addressed issues related to inappropriate race-related comments the couple has made in the past if he had been made aware of them. But although the manager said "all the employees were very aware that (redacted) was racist," the comments were never reported in the past.

Another Buffalo Wild Wings employee said in a handwritten statement in the report that tensions rose over several misunderstandings, with "our staff causing most of the drama."

"No racist comments or remarks were made," the unidentified employee wrote in the statement, "and it blew up by word-of-mouth."

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