Florida restaurant owner renames 'blackened chicken wings' to 'I can't breathe', employee quits in disgust

Brandon Gonzalez posted a photo of the receipt on Twitter after his former employer cracked the racist joke

                            Florida restaurant owner renames 'blackened chicken wings' to 'I can't breathe', employee quits in disgust
(Brandon Gonzalez/Twitter)

The owner of a restaurant in Florida reportedly renamed a menu item from 'Blackened Chicken Wings' to 'I Can't Breathe' — prompting an employee to quit.

Brandon Gonzalez, now a former employee at the Hole in the Wall Pub in Miami, posted a photo of the receipt on Twitter.

"Yesterday I was at work and my boss, Hole in the Wall co-founder Sam, thought it'd be funny to change the 'Blackened' wings to 'I Can't Breathe'. Attention Miami locals do not support this disgusting establishment. I quit today. #BlackLivesMatter," he wrote.

Speaking to NBC Miami, Gonzalez said the name change was equivalent to "pretty much joking about the BLM moment."

"You think it's a joke that George Floyd was saying 'I can't breathe' an x amount of times like you think that's funny? You know, like, that's not funny," he added.

'I can't breathe' became a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement after the words were uttered by George Floyd moments before his death.

(Getty Images)

"I initially brushed it off as a mistake, but the owner came into the kitchen and mentioned the joke to the kitchen workers. They just looked at him," the former employee told Miami New Times.

Following a major backlash, Sam Diedrick, the owner of the establishment, shared a now-deleted message on Instagram.
"I want to apologize for my insensitivity in a lame attempt at humor," he wrote. "My intentions were never to offend or make any employee or customer uncomfortable. I will take this incident and learn from my oafish behavior. I truly am sorry."

Meanwhile, partners also issued an apology on the restaurant's official website.

"The management of 'Hole in the Wall Pub' is disgusted about what occurred," they said in a statement. "We apologize to our customers and employees. It is reprehensible and goes completely against our values. We have taken immediate action by suspending Mr Diedrick."

"We will be engaging directly with each of our employees to listen to their concerns and explain to them the steps we are taking to ensure this never occurs again," they added.

Diedrick opened Hole in the Wall Pub with his business partner Craig Erickson on New Year's Day 2010 at the Kings Bay Shopping Center in Miami-Dade. They now have four locations in South Miami-Dade County, Florida.

"My poor mom is like 'omg now they're going to come egg our house' 'why'd you post that' [because] if everyone had that mentality nothing will change," Gonzalez said in another tweet. "I speak for those afraid to lose [their] jobs for speaking up. I said what had to be posted. You can't be scared of [the] consequences."

A protester holds a sign reading 'I Can't Breathe' outside the District Attorney's office during a demonstration over George Floyd’s death in Los Angeles, California (Getty Images)

The death of George Floyd set off a string of emotions that took the form of a massive movement across the United States, as well as other parts of the world. As much as people raised a cry over another senseless killing of an unarmed black man, they were equally outraged by the manner in which he was killed.

46-year-old Floyd was seen in a disturbing footage from May 25 lying on the street with handcuffs on during his arrest as former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck, almost crushing his head on the pavement underneath.

“I can’t breathe,” Floyd repeatedly says in the footage. “Please. Please. Please. I can’t breathe. Please, man.” Bystanders also urge the officer to get off Floyd's neck but he refuses to listen, kneeling for nearly nine minutes till Floyd loses consciousness.

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