Steakhouse's Dress Code and Minimum Payment Raises Eyebrows and Tempers on Social Media

Steak 48, an upscale restaurant chain, opened a location in Philadelphia this week, and it isn't the food that people are talking about. Instead, social media has focused on the restaurant's $100 per person food and drink minimum, and its strict dress code. Some found it funny that a steakhouse would try to be upscale when it has a casual dining menu, while others accused the restaurant of trying to exclude Black patrons.

The chain is family-owned, with other locations in Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix. Steak 48 in Philadelphia opened in September 2020, across from the Kimmel Center in spaces previously occupied by Ted's Montana Grill and Ruth's Chris. When it first opened, executives told the Philadelphia Inquirer they aimed for a $120-per-person check average, similar to other high-end steakhouses.

Earlier this week, the restaurant made it so customers have to at least spend $100 each on food and drinks with the new policy surfacing on its website. "There is a $100 per person food & beverage minimum for each person at your table in order to ensure that each guest enjoys the total experience of food, service, and atmosphere," the policy reads. "This does not include tax or tip. We look forward to welcoming you."

Steak 48 also said customers need to follow a strict dress code to be allowed in. Even children have to follow the code. Sweatsuits and workout attire are banned, as are sweatshirts with large designs, men's tank tops, exposed undergarments, and "bustier tops, corset tops, bandeaux tops, or tube tops unless each is worn under a waist-length jacket." Customers cannot wear any clothing with vulgar messages, and women cannot wear "excessively revealing" clothing or show "excessive cleavage."

"Excessively frayed or torn clothing" is banned too. Clothing with "offensive odors" cannot be worn in the restaurant, and men will not be able to wear any hats. Women can wear hats, as long as they aren't baseball caps. Bandannas cannot be "worn as headwear." Of course, footwear is required, but customers can wear any shoe style they like. "Please note, Management reserves the right to change and/or update the Dress Code at any time," the restaurant notes. The dress code also covers State 48's Chicago, Charlotte, and Houston locations. The notice was also posted on the door, notes the Inquirer. It is not known if any customer has been turned away because of the policy, and the company did not say what led to the strict dress code.

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Professional boxer Bryant "B.Y." Jennings told the Inquirer he thinks Steak 48 made the change because it was not attracting the kind of patrons they wanted. "It's very trendy and in the Black community, people love to jump on things that are trends," Jennings said. He did not see racial overtones in the dress code change and pointed to a March 2021 video of someone getting into a fight in the Steak 48 dining room as evidence that the managers felt a change was needed.

"You could see the writing on the wall that they were going to do something down the line because they just opened up and … all of a sudden there [were] fights, drama, and all kinds of stuff," Baba Taiye Renfrow told the Inquirer. "And it started to steer people away, including myself."