By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
Twenty-two African-American bowlers from Maryland have filed suit against a Wood County restaurant, charging that the staff discriminated against them when they stopped for dinner during the summer.
The suit, filed yesterday in federal court in Toledo, alleges that they were denied service given to white customers at the Iron Skillet restaurant, which is inside the Petro Stopping Center, a truck stop at 26146 W. Service Rd. in Lake Township.
“I am outraged by the way they treated us,” said Diane Scott, the lead plaintiff in the case. “We were ignored and insulted because of our race.”
The men and women were returning from a bowling tournament in Chicago on the Ohio Turnpike when they stopped at the Iron Skillet on June 7.
Among the allegations in the lawsuit:
* White customers who entered the restaurant after the bowlers were served before the plaintiffs, who had to wait up to an hour for service.
* The bowlers were required to ask repeatedly for tableware and condiments, while they were provided automatically to white patrons.
* Staff members made derogatory comments to the bowlers such as “Everything was fine until you people came in here.”
Curtis Coats, director of marketing for Petro Stopping Centers in El Paso, Tex., said the company is “vigorously denying the charges.” He said Petro has conducted its own internal investigation and concluded the charges are false.
“We plan on actively and aggressively contesting the lawsuit,” he said.
The bowlers are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The case has been assigned to Judge David Katz.