Fort Worth

Varsity Tavern responds to complaints of discriminatory dress code enforcement

The Varsity Tavern has made over $13.1 million in alcohol revenue since it opened, according to data from MyBarSales.com.
The Varsity Tavern has made over $13.1 million in alcohol revenue since it opened, according to data from MyBarSales.com. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Varsity Tavern, a popular bar in the West Seventh area in Fort Worth, released a statement on Tuesday about its dress code policy, which several people who spoke to the Star-Telegram felt is discriminatory based on race.

The statement, which was posted on Facebook early Tuesday afternoon, reads: "At Varsity Tavern we consistently strive to deliver a perfect night out to all of our guests, and we were saddened to learn there were people who felt they had been discriminated against when they were turned away based on our dress code.

Black male club patrons report being turned away at the door based on fluid applications of the dress code. Several said their shoes were the determining factor, when other non-black men were admitted wearing similar shoes.

"We feel our dress code is an important part of providing the best possible experience for guests. We have an incredible staff working nightly to ensure a great Varsity Tavern experience, and we realize that also means there can appear to be inconsistencies in enforcement of a dress code as we are all human.

"Racial discrimination is something we, as a diverse family ourselves, take very seriously and absolutely do not tolerate or condone. We will continue to work with our staff to maintain consistency in how we enforce our policies, so we can keep bringing our Fort Worth community some of the best nights of their lives on W. 7th."

On Monday, the Star-Telegram published a story about several clubgoers who said that they believe they were barred entrance to the bar, or saw someone denied entrance, because of their race when bouncers used selective enforcement of the dress code. Four were black men while one was Hispanic. Several more have commented on Facebook and Twitter that they've had similar experiences.

Bars, lounges and taverns are all classified as places of public accommodation, according to the City of Fort Worth Human Relations Ordinance.

Section 17-48 states that it is unlawful “to discriminate against, withhold from or deny any person, because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, transgender, gender identity or gender expression any of the advantages, facilities or services offered to the general public by a place of public accommodation.”

The same section also states that it is unlawful “to refuse admission to or to expel from any place of public accommodation any person for alleged noncompliance with a dress code, personal conduct restriction, or identification requirement unless such place of public accommodation has previously posted a notice specifying the details of such code, restriction or requirement in a conspicuous, clearly visible location at each public entrance to the place of public accommodation.”

Varsity has made over $13.1 million in alcohol revenue since it opened in December 2015 (until February 2018), making it the highest-earning bar in the West Seventh area and the entire 76107 ZIP code, according to data from MyBarSales.com. Next up is Reservoir, which made a little more than $6.3 million during the same time period. Reservoir has been open since November 2012.

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