FOOD- THE DISH- Disturbin' turban? X Lounge head wear policy riles

The X Lounge's "no head wear" policy backfired last week when a doorman turned a UVA Sikh student away for wearing a turban.

On Friday night last week, the doorman at the X Lounge, the chic bar/restaurant in the Glass Building just off the Downtown Mall, made a questionable call concerning a turban wearing Sikh student from UVA.  

According to a story that first appeared in the Cavalier Daily, at around 1:30am, the Sikh student tried to join fellow members of UVA's Indian Student Association at the restaurant for a nightcap, but was told by the doorman that he couldn't go in "with that thing on." 

Apparently, the ISA's president tried to reason with the X Lounge's manager, explaining that it was a requirement of the student's faith, but the manager stuck to the restaurant's  no head wear policy, a decision that X Lounge owner J.F. Legault now regrets.

Legault declined to make any comments for the record, preferring instead to address the issue in a prepared statement.

"Our most sincere apologies go out the individual, his companions and the entire community," reads the statement.  "The X Lounge has a "no head covering" policy and at times this policy has created difficult situations.  In this case, there was a lack of common sense on our part and respect to one's religion did not prevail."

Indeed, in a city where someone of the Sikh faith sits on our City Council, the gaffe appears particularly void of common sense. The statement doesn't explain why the X Lounge has a no head wear policy, and Legault wasn't willing to elaborate. As you may recall, the owners of the Corner restaurant Jaberwoke, which re-opened as Three-a Kitchen and Lounge, got in some hot-water over a dress code that banned white t-shirts, oversized t-shirts, baggy jeans, sweatpants, and hats without brims– in other words, the threads of choice of hip-hop music fans. 

Like the X Lounge incident, furor over the Jaberwoke policy was the result of a story in the Cavalier Daily, which prompted student organizations to demand a meeting with the restaurant's owners. Nearly 50 students, most of them African American, showed up for the two-hour discussion.

A month earlier, Jaberwoke's owners explained that the dress code was being implemented to encourage "better behavior" among its patrons. 

"It ain't dress; it's race," declared an outraged Rick Turner, local NAACP president and UVA's former Dean of African American Affairs during the meeting. "You really don't want black people in your bar."

After being peppered with such comments, Jaberwoke's owners offered to change the dress code on the spot. But the crowd wasn't easily appeased. 

"I don't understand why you need a dress code at all," said one student. 

The X Lounge incident appears to have elicited a similar reaction from the ISA. While Indian student representatives appeared to welcome Legault's apology, they declared it wasn't enough and demanded that the X Lounge's policy on head wear be changed, that the manager be punished, and that the X Lounge explain specifically how they planned to prevent such incidents from happening again. 

Even UVA spokesperson Carol Wood got in on the action, saying it "shows that there are still people in our community who do not understand the basic tenants of our country." Ouch!

In his statement, Legault says that steps will be taken at the X Lounge to make sure nothing like this ever happens again, but did not say if the head wear policy would be reconsidered or altered. 

Over at Waldo Jaquith's, the discussion got pretty heated under a post on the incident, with some folks calling for a boycott of the X Lounge, others saying they have a right to create any policy they want, that it was the fault of one dumb employee, and calling for less hysteria when talking about race. One person pointed out that Charlottesville City Schools have an even more restrictive dress code, but someone else made note of the fact that the X Lounge apology came after the ISA rallied folks at UVA, not when their president explained to the manager at the time that he was required to let the Sikh student inside.  

Knife-wielding chicken seeks revenge

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have some of the more memorable protests around– we still haven't forgotten the naked protester from 2006. On March 30, chicken-suited Kristina Addington took the knife to Ronald McDonald (Cassandra Callaghan) in front the McDonald's on Ridge-McIntire as part of PETA's McCruelty Campaign to draw attention to mass poultry-slaughtering machines that slit the throats of conscious chickens and if the blades miss, the bird is plunged into scalding water while still alive, says PETA. Afterward, the protesters did not dine on Chicken McNuggets for lunch. – Lisa Provence


Bye-Bye Pizza Boli

In 2006, when Julio Arias opened Pizza Boli on West Main, the Greene County resident admitted that opening a restaurant in Charlottesville was risky business. "There are like 200 places to eat here," he said (more like 300, actually). "It's a risk, but I decided to take it." However, after three years, the risk appears not to have paid off. On March 13, the contents of the restaurant were auctioned off and no one appears to be answering the phone.