On Friday, wildly popular Third Ward restaurant the Turkey Leg Hut announced that it would implement a new dress code that many critics have described as racist.
The restaurant announced its new dress code in a now-deleted post to its Instagram account, and the rules are surprisingly strict for the casual spot. In addition to rules like “all body parts must be completely covered” and “no swimwear,” the new dress code also bans “exposed undergarments” like sports bras and panties, and clothing emblazoned with “obscene language.”
Not long after this new policy was posted to social media, Twitter erupted in a furor, causing the restaurant’s name to trend on the platform well into Saturday morning. Many users decried the policy as racist, and pointed to the history of how dress codes have been used to exclude people of color from spaces like restaurants for years. And because this is Twitter, there was no shortage of jokes about how people would dress when heading to Turkey Leg Hut to feast on crawfish-stuffed turkey legs:
Some place called Turkey Leg Hut posted this dress code on their Instagram page.— The Hoarse Whisperer (@TheRealHoarse) July 3, 2021
I’ve been to weddings with more relaxed dress codes. pic.twitter.com/9adWN8dsr8
Getting ready for dinner at the Turkey Leg Hut. pic.twitter.com/hbVQ8BxsY5— Joe Leydon (@JoeLeydon) July 3, 2021
Blessed day. Would you be so kind as to accompany me to the Turkey Leg Hut? Under His eye…. pic.twitter.com/hN2DBfIicy— Sweet Ambitchions (@ShikeraCallihan) July 3, 2021
Shortly after the controversy popped off, the Turkey Leg Hut deleted its original post and replaced it with an updated dress code that’s a little more relaxed, but still prevents patrons from wearing “excessively baggy/sagging pants” and notes that “shorts must cover your entire bottom” while banning “distressed or ripped clothing that is overly revealing.”
“Please know that we are a family friendly restaurant that serves all ages from children to adults daily and putting this dress code in place was necessary to ensure that all parties from our guest to our staff are dressed appropriately when in our establishment,” the updated post reads. “We are not a club, we are a family friendly restaurant, and will continue to maintain our standards as we welcome everyone to the Turkey Leg Hut.” Comments on that post, and all of the Turkey Leg Hut’s Instagram posts, have been turned off.
In a statement provided to the press on Saturday afternoon, Nakia Price said that the decision to implement a dress code came after the restaurant received complaints from diners “regarding people’s attire choices.” “It’s unfortunate that we even have to address this or implement a dress code,” Price’s statement reads in part. “Our dress code policy is not meant to target or offend anyone but rather provide our guests with an acceptable clothing guide, so that all guests and staff will feel comfortable in our establishment. The Turkey Leg Hut has been, and always will be, a restaurant of inclusivity for all and we will continue to take into consideration the input of all patrons to provide a safe, comfortable and healthy environment for our community and guests.”
The Turkey Leg Hut is, of course, no stranger to controversy. In February, co-owner Lyndell Price was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly pistol-whipping a man at forthcoming Third Ward bar Savoy Ice House. That case is still pending. In 2020, co-founder Nakia Price and investor Steven Price sued each other, alleging theft and financial misconduct. The year prior, the restaurant was sued by its neighbors in the Third Ward, who claimed that the restaurant’s “noxious” smoke was polluting the neighborhood. Litigation between Price and Rogers is still pending, while the suit filed by the Third Ward residents has been dropped.
- Houston’s Iconic Turkey Leg Hut Sits at the Center of Two Extremely Dramatic Lawsuits [EHOU]
- Turkey Leg Hut Co-Owner Faces Aggravated Assault Charge Following Incident at a Forthcoming Third Ward Bar [EHOU]
- Neighbors Slap Turkey Leg Hut With Lawsuit Over Its Allegedly ‘Noxious’ Smoke [EHOU]
Update, 2:53 p.m.: This post has been updated to include a statement issued by Turkey Leg Hut co-owner Nakia Price.