OTR Treehouse bar denies accusations of racism over dress code

Javier Baynes and Matthew Williams, provided
Javier Baynes and Matthew Williams, provided

OVER THE RHINE, OH (FOX19) - A new bar is denying accusations of discrimination after several people claimed they were turned away for looking "too urban."

The Treehouse Patio Bar launched a soft opening about a week ago. It brings a new concept to the OTR bar scene with rope swings replacing traditional seats.

Earlier this week, excitement for the new bar turned into a social media firestorm after word spread about the dress code.

Javier Baynes and Matthew Williams, along with many others, were eager to check it out but they never made it past the door this past weekend.

"He told me if I wanted to enter the establishment I would have to remove my chains and leave them outside of the establishment because our look was too urban," said Baynes.

Baynes was wearing a fishnet tank under a collared shirt with a chunky necklace with a lock.

Williams was wearing a black shirt under a sleeveless top with a long gold chain.

"We're local artists, so when you look at any artist anywhere it might be a little more flamboyant than the average person walking around, but it's true to ourselves and it's not offensive," said Williams.

The co-owner of Treehouse Patio Zac Costa released a statement saying, "Over the last several days, many people who have never been to our establishment are creating an onslaught of negative reviews claiming our security turned staff away a potential guest for being 'too urban.' We have thoroughly investigated this claim and have found it to be completely false."

He goes on to say the individual was denied entry to our venue due to a clear violation of our dress code of "No oversized necklaces. The individual has made repeated claims that our staff and establishment are racist. This absurd accusation is completely false."

Williams said he battled whether or not to make the incident public on Facebook.

"I really had to ask my associates, my friends, my family if I was taking it too far. If I was exaggerating. If I was in the wrong," he said.

Several others also claimed to have a similar experience, including Avishaan Singh Sethi, who wrote that he was turned away because "an owner said my pants were too flashy."

Costa said everyone is welcome to the bar as long as they follow the dress code. The dress code includes: no weapons, no white T-shirts, no sagging pants, no oversized necklaces, no basketball shorts, no poor personal hygiene or dirty clothing.

Some say the problem with the dress code is that it isn't posted anywhere for visitors to see.

"They're gentrifying our neighborhoods and trying to basically exclude us from a community that's already ours and it's not a good feeling," said Williams.

He said this is an ongoing problem at several establishments in the area and they hope this recent incident brings change.

The owner of Treehouse Patio Bar said that they will do their best to protect individualism of their guests and to create a safe and secure environment.

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