Bar accused of having 'racist' dress code: 'Steer clear of this place'

A sign spells out the dress code for a Jersey City bar. (Photo: Instagram/Yelp)
A sign spells out the dress code for a Jersey City bar. (Photo: Instagram/Yelp)

Words: Kerry Justich

A new bar in Jersey City, N.J., is already racking up a bad reputation — for displaying a dress code that was interpreted as “racist.”

The Ashford is a highly anticipated addition to the up-and-coming area, but its debut seems to have fallen flat during the first week, based on some reviews.

And although a number of people have posted some semi-flattering comments about the food and interior of the speakeasy-style eatery, others couldn’t get past a sign that was posted outside its front door.

“Confused with the dress code,” a Yelp reviewer named Sam K. wrote. “My blonde female friend was allowed in with loose sweat pants but for some reason the other guys in our group (who happened to be black and wearing normal looking pants or at least we thought they were), were not allowed in and told by the bouncer they do not let people in pyjamas in.”

Sam went on to write that the official dress code wasn’t hung outside the restaurant until after their visit, and that only stirred up more confusion, as it stated “No gym sneakers” even though some white men within the group had been granted entry wearing just that.

“Let’s face it. This is going to be one of those places. So if you’re into that, you’ll have a blast,” Sam wrote. “If you’re not, there’s plenty of fun places in JC to choose from beyond the first couple blocks of Newark Ave without racist and sexist policies.”

Turns out, Sam isn’t alone in his interpretation of the Ashford’s dress code policies. Many others have since posted their own reviews of the restaurant on Yelp, with one going so far as to say that the restaurant might as well display a sign that reads “Whites Only.”

“I saw multiple white guys not adhering to that dress code in the establishment,” reviewer Jay M. wrote. “Wouldn’t give this place my business again.”

“Steer clear of this place, it’s obviously a very close-minded and segregated establishment, not to mention completely racist/homophobic/sexist,” another person wrote. “I’m not sure how long a place like this can operate in a community that values diversity and inclusion.”

The bar’s co-owner Kenny Caulfield didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. But Caulfield told NJ Advance Media that the dress code placard was “an oversight” and had “nothing to do with race whatsoever.”

“It was an oversight. You’re busy, you’re not paying attention to every detail. You’re going 100 miles an hour. The sign was made up, and it wasn’t reviewed properly,” Caulfield told the outlet. “It was put out and it was rectified straightaway.”

However, negative Yelp reviews continue to be posted. Some say the bar’s bouncers have displayed discriminatory practices. Other people have even condemned the spot based on the restaurant’s response.

“I’m disappointed in their attempt to respond to numerous negative reviews. Instead of showing inclusivity, they attempted to explain their bouncer/owner’s racist seeming door policies,” someone wrote.

“We are a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic neighbourhood that prefers to celebrate our diversity. I would recommend they rethink their policies and treat all potential customers equally.”

Caulfield was also a co-owner of a Hoboken, N.J. bar called 1 Republik, which was closed in February 2018 after multiple violations, including the assault of a patron by a bouncer. The victim of the assault had to get emergency brain surgery as a result.

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