Austin’s Racism-Plagued Kung Fu Saloon In Legal Trouble Once Again

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Austin’s Kung Fu Saloon prides itself on its drinks and old-school arcade games. But those drink specials could soon be gone thanks to an investigation from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that could lead to the downtown bar losing its liquor license.

Kung Fu Saloon is under investigation for an incident that occurred in November, when a bartender allegedly assaulted a patron for no apparent reason. Austin police charged Kung Fu Saloon bartender Robert Camillone with aggravated assault for attacking customer Joey O’Hare, leaving him with a life-threatening brain injury, which he is still recovering from. O’Hare’s family is also suing the bar for $1 million.

According to the arrest warrant:

    …Surveillance video shows O’Hare paying for his tab when Camillone grabs him from behind around the neck, rendering O’Hare unconscious before tossing him to the ground outside the bar. Detective Kerry Stanley said there appeared to be no provocation captured by the bar’s surveillance cameras.

Kung Fu Saloon has faced four TABC investigations since 2011 . According to the Austin American-Statesman, “One case was dismissed, the bar paid a $600 fine in the second, and the other cases were documented so the agency could continue monitoring the bar but resulted in no penalty.” Kung Fu Saloon is also no stranger to its employees assaulting patrons–there were at least 3 cases of bar staff members assaulting customers on record with APD in 2014, including Camillone.

Kung Fu Saloon isn’t only known for its employees assaulting customers, however; it has also been in the news for its racism. Since 2013, there have been several allegations of Kung Fu employees displaying racism towards customers in the bar’s Austin and Dallas locations. In 2013, Kung Fu Saloon was charged with enforcing its dress code more strictly for black customers than white customers, denying black patrons entry because of wearing shorts, while allowing white customers to enter. There were reports of similar conduct in Dallas. Kung Fu Saloon’s Dallas employees later said that they were instructed by management to screen calls and deny customers who sounded “too ghetto” or “too Asian.” Kung Fu responded by denying the allegations of racism.

Now, Kung Fu Saloon is in trouble once again, and this time it could result in the loss of its liquor license. Unless the bar gets its act together and ditches the racism and violence, it may soon be gone, perhaps for good.

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About Author

Katie Singh

Katie grew up in Austin and has been involved in Texas politics since 2004. She has been a part of several campaigns, from state house races to working at President Obama's campaign headquarters in 2012. She loves public policy, public health, and tacos. Katie tweets from @kasingh19.

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