SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A well-known restaurant in downtown Shreveport is facing backlash after choosing to close during the Bayou Classic weekend.

Blind Tiger owner Glen Brannan said they had to close for renovations, but people in the community and at least one city official don’t believe that was the case.

“Optics are everything and it looked as though this particular business did not want to do business with the patriots of the Bayou Classics, who are typically predominately black,” Taylor Jamison with the Shreveport-Bossier African American Chamber of commerce said.

Brannan said their intentions were not to close due to any racial discrimination.

“We understand how it looks now but it was not motivated in any way by any kind of racism,” he said.

Brannan said the repairs were needed after a car ran into the building back in March. He said he had the opportunity to pick other days during the week but didn’t know a major event was happening and just wanted to give his overworked staff a break.

“It’s just kinda how it started out. And then when we chose the weekend we didn’t realize that that was what was going on that weekend,” Brannan told KTAL/KMSS.

Newly installed wall in front of Blind Tiger

Jamison said this was a historical moment for the city and for local restaurants to capitalize from.

This type of behavior he said reminds him of other cities that come up with excuses to not serve the black community.

“We’re used to seeing that down in New Orleans because that’s the game that has been played down there for so many years. But seeing it in your own community hurts a little bit differently,” Jamison said.

Jamison said restaurants thrive on the weekends and feel as if this was a bad business move on their part.

“The restaurant industry, especially after all of the covid restrictions that we’ve had, ironically you’re missing out on the busiest weekend to date for this year,” Jamison said.

“We said ‘you know what let’s get it fixed. We let our guys have the weekend off. Again there was no intent, I mean it was poor judgment I would say, right now it is. But at the same time it seemed like we were doing something that would help everybody out,” Brannan said.

Jamison said he grew up going to the restaurant but now he’s just processing it all.

“You know it’s hard to say don’t support them without them trying to explain themselves but we’ll see,” he said.

Management said they haven’t seen a decline in sales or the business since the incident
but want to apologize for the wrongful message and continue to serve the people they love.