2014 was a bad year for Kung Fu Saloon. The bar chain, which operates locations in Austin, Houston, and Dallas, made all of the wrong sorts of headlines. Over the summer, its unspoken dress code policy was shown to be racist by patrons, who made videos demonstrating that black customers were kept out despite similarly dressed white people being allowed in. (A former employee of the Dallas location corroborated those claims.)
Then, in November, a vicious assault took place at the Austin location, when—according to a police affidavit—a bouncer grabbed a 23-year-old Joey O’Hare, took him outside, and slammed his head into the ground. He was found in a pool of blood. The attack, alleged to have been unprovoked, resulted in the man suffering a severe brain injury, and the bouncer faces up to 20 years in prison.
By the end of the year, the fact that Kung Fu Saloon’s Austin location was the source of the most DWI arrests in the city, and faced accusations of over-serving intoxicated patrons, barely even registered.
The alleged racism led the city of Dallas to offer free anti-discrimination workshops for businesses. But it’s the assault that could lead to the bar’s license to sell alcohol being revoked. As the Austin American-Statesman reports:
State officials are investigating whether a popular downtown Austin bar properly reported a recent assault and whether employees could have prevented it.
Harry Nanos, a captain for the Austin district of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, said the investigation could result in the Kung Fu Saloon possibly having its liquor license suspended or revoked. […]
According to TABC records, Kung Fu has been investigated for administrative violations four times since 2011. 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.
And the charges of racism and discrimination have dogged not just the Dallas location, but Houston and Austin as well. But, for the moment, Kung Fu Saloon locations remain open in Austin, Dallas, and Houston—so (white) readers who want to see what the fuss is all about might want to strap on their helmets and give it a look while they can.