After five months of protests due to alleged racial discrimination, an upscale restaurant in Atlanta’s ritzy Buckhead section is closing down. The eatery in question is Houston’s on Lenox Road. Months ago, they came under fire for refusing service to a group of Black people looking to get some grub. The group was headed by entrepreneur Jay “Mr. Real Estate” Morrison and his fiance and actress, Ernestine Johnson. Together, they galvanized hundreds, including celebrities, to boycott Houston’s and demonstrate at the location in response.
Jay Morrison follied early on in his journey to become a successful real estate investor, realtor, TV personality, entrepreneur and social activist. As an at-risk youth, he dropped out of high school and went on to be a three-time felon. However, a decade ago, he was able to turn his life around. Now, as the CEO and founder of the Jay Morrison Brand and the Jay Morrison Academy (an online real estate school and mentorship program), he uses his success and life experiences to uplift and inspire his thousands of Academy students, troubled youth, ex-offenders and real estate professionals.
It is customary for Morrison to treat his team to lunch on Friday afternoons. On one Friday afternoon in October of 2017, Morrison and Johnson took the team to Houston’s on Lenox Road. There were seven people in total in the party. However, when the party arrived to the restaurant, they were refused by the restaurant’s staff, who said they could not accommodate a party that large.
Morrison and Johnson tried to remedy the situation by suggesting that the party be split up into groups of three and four. Though, according to Morrison, the restaurant was virtually empty, the staff still refused to group entry, oddly claiming that they couldn’t split them up, because they knew that they came in as a party of seven. Though the company does have a policy about seating more than six people, Morrison and Johnson received photos n social media of large, White groups seated at various Houston’s locations.
This event spurred five months of boycott and protest at the Houston’s location on Lenox Road. Morrison and Johnson organized the demonstrations, starting on social media, then moving to the streets. Videos show scenes of a mass of people chanting, “Shut it down,” and “Who’s city? Our City!” Morrison and Johnson were even able to attract the public and sincere support of celebrities, such as T.I. and Tiny Harris, Killer Mike, Deb Antney and Yandy Smith. According to Morrison, the protestors even shut down the restaurant on some days.
Last week, it was reported that the Houston’s on Lenox Road will be closing down on March 31st. Many would consider this a result of the demonstrations happening at the chain, but according to the restaurant’s parent company, the Hillstone Restaurant Group, “While unfortunate, the demonstrations had no bearing on the decision to close this restaurant.” The company cites long-term leasing issues as the reason that the Houston’s location is shutting down.
Nevertheless, the protest can be seen as a success, no matter what anyone says. The desired result happened. The demonstrations were clearly affecting business and the goal, no matter how it happened, is accomplished.
View videos below of the protests from Jay Morrison’s Youtube page and Instagram: