Cafe Owner Posts Sign Discouraging Racists From Entering Her Restaurant

July 10, 2013  |  


Source: The Independent

This British black woman, a restaurant owner, has had enough of the discrimination. Martha-Renée Kolleh who owns Yeanon Café in Ossett, West Yorshire was tired of people walking in her restaurant, seeing her black face, and then turning around and walking right back out.

So she posted a warning of sorts in response.

The sign, written in all caps, reads:

Attention! Everyone be aware I am a black woman, and always will be. If you are allergic to black people, don’t come in.

But if you prefer quality wholesome meals in a pleasant and clean environment, come in. I don’t bite. 


Kolleh said she posted the sign to vent her frustration. These frustrations aren’t completely unfounded either. Noticing how people were responding to her, she decided to conduct an experiment. She hired a white woman named Tracy to be the front woman for the restaurant. She said when Tracy is in the front of the restaurant the place is full but when she’s not working, the place is empty. In fact, she says there are times when people walk into her establishment, see her face and state that they think they’ve walked into the wrong place.

It’s actually quite surprising that people are so shocked to see Martha-Renée considering the restaurant, which also serves English food, states quite plainly that it’s Afro-Caribbean. Kolleh, who has been in business for two years in a predominately community, says she might have to close the place if people continue walking in and out.

She told The Independent that this restaurant is her livelihood and helps support her three children: “If my business does not improve I will have to pack up in just a number of months. I am a qualified chef, and if I worked anywhere else I would be lost. I am here to cook and I am good at it so it’s such a shame people won’t come in here.”

Kolleh’s sign was received with mixed reviews. Some found it amusing and others were offended. She told The Independent : “Some people find the sign amusing and they say ‘oh yes it’s about time you put that up’, so I think they all realise what’s going on here. Some others just read it and walk away. I’ve heard one or two swearwords as well regarding the notice,” she told the paper.

What do you think of Kolleh’s sign? Do you think it will help or hurt her business?

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  • yeah! this things very great with me

  • i want usually now and future from this page

  • I did not really important distinction, I can accept life as it is, is the social world. If there are no black people, perhaps the world has lost a lot of interesting points and culture.

  • LunaSea97

    It sounds a little confrontational being on the front door (because your potentially racist behind can’t SEE her yet so it comes off a bit snarky) but if people ARE walking out just because she’s Black I could see putting up the sign near the register so at the moment their brain clicks over to “I need to leave this Black establishment” their eyes will see the reprimand.

  • Chanda

    I commend her for not wanting to put up the b.s. but all she really needed to do was put up: Black Owned. They’d get the point. These people need to get with the program.

  • Haa Haa

    Some people just can’t believe a black person can have a successful business. I had a black female boss with her own company and when the state employee came to do the annual survey, they asked her who was really the owner. She also told me how when she first bought her house back in the 1960’s people trying to solicit business would ask her for the lady of the house as if she was the hired help.

  • empresstala

    i think this will hurt her business and she will probably have to close down or move to another location. every1 knows white people hate to be called out on their f**kery, so you know they got mad as hell when she put that sign up lol

  • Barbara Codner

    I get what she is saying but the sign was basically stooping down to their level. If I saw that sign, I wouldn’t go in and I’m black. It would be a bad vibe from the door. Her sign should be welcoming not confrontational.

    • She’s not stooping down to their level; she’s saying from the beginning that she’s not going to tolerate anyone with that type of mindset coming in and disrespecting her business. Neither is her sign confrontational. The racist almost-customers are the ones who started the issue by walking out when they see a Black woman in the store. If they actually behaved like civilized people, she wouldn’t have to put that sign up in the first place. At some point, people have to say “no more”, and that’s what she did.

  • Nisha

    So they want to eat Afro-Caribbean food and walk out when they see an Afro(African) woman at the counter AND she owns the place?? They can take their stupid a**es somewhere else, that makes no sense at all.

  • FromUR2UB

    A predominantly WHAT community? ( big speed bump there). I’m guessing white, but wondering why she chose to open there. Didn’t she scout the area before opening a business there?

    • ItsRoni

      That’s probably where she thought the money was. I’m sure she did not think that they would be so freakin’ racist that they would not eat in her restaurant because she is black.

      • FromUR2UB

        I’m always amazed by black people who don’t anticipate this. Usually, this level of racism is so palpable, that you can almost feel the stares bearing into your back. Good food is often an equalizer, but on the other hand, whites usually don’t support black businesses. So, it’s OK for her to cook for them, just not make a profit off them.

    • sabrina

      Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. That was important info left out!!

    • Live_in_LDN

      She probably lives there so it was more of a decision of proximity and convenience. It is a small cafe in a small Northern town so the rent is probably really cheap and she’s not mega rich to be able to just pick up and set up somewhere else.

      Since the 60s, Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants were setting up restaurants all across the UK even in the most racist of communities. Sure the Asians got a lot of racial abuse but they made some coin. (It’s weird but in UK the right wing racists do love Indian food) . Maybe this woman was optimistic and thought this was a business model she could follow.

  • Clarke

    This is fantastic.

    By all means, there will be those who may say that something such as this ‘invites/warrants racism, is politically incorrect and tasteless’ but, hypothetically speaking, “Don’t shoot the message. Shoot the messenger”… And who is the messenger, per say: Society.

    If we did not live in the country in which we do, there would be no need for this but, unfortunately and disgracefully, that is, and always will be, the case.

    I have walked past many stores within the New York/Tri-State area of which harbour many different signs, such as these, on their front doors – “Muslim & Latino/Hispanic Owned”, for instance, is a couple of brief examples.

    I applaud this Woman. It certainly won’t eradicate the prejudices that plague the White/American majority, but it, certainly, is an honest cause for my/our people indeed.

  • Maggie

    Black people have no allies on this planet . . sign was necessary

  • (Slow clap). This…is…genius. Super props to her. Not only is the sign witty, but it gets the point across, big time. I don’t see anything wrong with it. All she’s doing is being clear about who she is, as well as the type of people whom she doesn’t want in her establishment. Hopefully business will be able to pick up for her.