The manager at an IKEA store in Atlanta, Georgia, apologized publicly after facing criticism for a Juneteenth food menu that featured dishes including watermelon, fried chicken, and collard greens.
CBS News reported that the manager sent an internal email to staff addressing the issue. The manager’s email allegedly read, “I truly apologize if the menu came off as subjective. It was created with the best of intentions by a few of our coworkers who believed they were representing their culture and tradition with these foods of celebration.”
Anonymous employees of the Atlanta IKEA who spoke to CBS said many employees were considering quitting and 33 called out of work from the Swedish-owned chain furniture store after learning about the menu.
“You cannot say serving watermelon on Juneteenth is a soul food menu when you don’t even know the history — they used to feed slaves watermelon during the slavery time,” the worker said. “It caused a lot of people to be upset. People actually wanted to quit. People weren’t coming back to work.”
Huffington Post editor Philip Lewis posted a screenshot of the proposed menu, which you can view below. The full meal included fried chicken, watermelon, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, collared greens and potato salad.
IKEA told CBS Atlanta station WGCL-TV they made adjustments to the menu after concerns were raised but some employees told the station a different story. “They just delayed the menu by a day, thinking that everybody who was upset stayed home on Juneteenth and wouldn’t notice on Sunday, which just added insult to injury.”
According to CBS, “the store manager told WGCL management deeply apologizes for what happened and realizes they got the menu wrong.”
The so-called revised menu apparently included collard greens, corn bread, mashed potatoes and meatloaf. Employees were sent the menu via email, according to WGCL.
One employee told CBS, “I’m just frankly disappointed in the learning process — you shouldn’t learn after you have insulted all of your Black employees.”
Another IKEA worker pointed out to WGCL that there wasn’t a single Black employee working at the Atlanta store that was asked to give their input on the menu. “None of the coworkers who sat down to create the menu, no one was black,” the person said.
People on social media were also quick to criticize the ill-informed menu decision, and you can check out some of their reactions below.