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Indigo Chef Jonny Rhodes Calls Out Racism in Restaurant Reviews

The chef pushed back against a reviewer who described the restaurant’s neighborhood as dangerous

Jonny Rhodes Solomon Sixteenth/Christopher Anderson

In an Instagram post over the weekend, Indigo chef Jonny Rhodes criticized what he describes as “racism in fine dining.”

Rhodes’s post to the restaurant’s Instagram account on Sunday was inspired by a lengthy, negative review of Indigo that describes its food as “good,” but criticizes the neighborhood in which it is located. “I understand the chef grew up in the area, but we had people walking by and staring in the small room through the windows that could have been drug addicts or gang members,” the review reads in part. “The second we walked outside after dinner, 3 dangerous looking men approached us for money. We barely had time to dart into our cars before they would have been within an unsafe distance.”

In response, Rhodes sent a message to the reviewer admonishing them for that characterization of the neighborhood. “Just because you see impoverished people of color this does not equate them to being “gang members” or “addicts” of any variety,” the response reads. “Was it the color of their skin that challenged your privilege, causing you to feel this way? Do people not ask for money on Westheimer? If the food was “good” and the service was stellar, why go out of your way to speak so negatively of people in the community?”

Rhodes addressed these types of “negative assumptions” about Lindale Park, the neighborhood where his restaurant opened in 2018, in a February interview with Eater. “Some people have taken issue with our community. They automatically assume that this is a ‘bad’ part of town, when it’s really not,” Rhodes said. “People have a really hard time challenging their privilege, and we want them to recognize that we are at least here. Our community is no better or worse than any other community, no less or more violent or dangerous than any other.”

Scope out the full review and Rhodes’s response below:

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