An IHOP in Auburn, Maine, will be temporarily closed for an employee training session on Thursday after a staff member asked a group of black teenagers to pay in advance while dining at the restaurant, a representative from the company confirms PEOPLE.
Avery Gagne, who was having dinner at the IHOP premises with her parents when the incident occurred on Sunday, shared a long Facebook post detailing what she witnessed. When they questioned what was happening, an employee told Gagne that they had had problems in the past when young customers skipped the bill. The staff member added: "It's not because of its color."
"The fact that she stated 'is not because of her color' proves it all," Gagne wrote, noting that a girl in the group was wearing a hijab. "The worst of all is that one of the teenagers looked at my mother and me and said, 'It's okay', No. It's not right, this is not right, I will not tolerate this."
Manager Melvin Escobar told The Sun Journal – who was the first to report the incident – that he believes the server was trying to avoid a difficult situation. However, Escobar said that the waitress faced the situation.
"This is the first time it happens, and that will be the last time," Escobar said.
"We do not discriminate (against) people because of who they are or who they are," he added to The Sun Journal .
The management addressed the incident through the restaurant's Facebook page, saying that "they are handling issues to correct the problem."  "We sincerely apologize on behalf of the actions of our waiters, a meeting has been held with all the members of our staff, everyone has realized these inexcusable actions and is reminded how we handle things correctly in the future, "they wrote. "We have rectified the situation and we can guarantee that this is not what we allow to happen inside our restaurant."
The manager added: "Please save our credibility, as this situation is not a reflection of the service we strive to offer". . Auburn IHOP is proud to offer a happy, pleasant and memorable dining experience. "
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The President of IHOP, Darren Rebelez, also issued a statement on the incident.
"IHOP and our franchisees have zero tolerance for actions that are or allude to discrimination of any kind. The franchisee of this location is working to contact the affected guests directly to apologize for this incident and are taking appropriate measures in line with their human resources policies, "said Rebelez." For 60 years, IHOP and our franchisees have strived to create a warm and hospitable dining experience for all guests, and this isolated incident does not reflect that ongoing commitment. "