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Bar owner apologizes to denied Polynesians

A Salt Lake City bar owner has apologized after one of his employees refused to serve two Polynesian men because of their ethnicity.

Patron Frank Maea said he and a friend had just entered Willie’s Lounge and ordered a drink when the bartender checked his ID and asked whether he was Polynesian. When he confirmed that he was, she said she couldn’t serve him.

“I have never been treated like that, never,” Maea told Salt Lake City’s KUTV.

Shocked, he took a cellphone video and posted it online before he left.

Owner Geremy Cloyd didn’t dispute the account in interviews Wednesday but acknowledged it was a mistake.

He said he has an informal rule allowing female bartenders working alone at night to turn away people who look like they could make trouble, and acknowledged that he has included Polynesian people in that category.

“It just so happens, our problem has been with Polynesians,” he said.

Cloyd said Thursday that he’s planning to meet with leaders of the local Polynesian community. Maea said he’ll accept Cloyd’s apology but doesn’t plan on going back to Willie’s.

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