In response to allegations that he directed a racial slur at a group of black patrons at the Emeryville location of his popcorn chain store Cornology, company CEO Mark Stone tells Eater he is “deeply sorry for what I did.”
As the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday, witnesses to the incident alleged that a lone employee working at the East Bay shop hurled racist remarks at a group of about 10 young, black customers, demanding that they leave the store. Stone, who put the number of customers at 25 and alleged that they had been stealing, originally told the paper that the actions were those of an employee.
“He regrets it terribly,” Stone said.
But apparently, the CEO was speaking of himself in the third person: After a city official identified Stone as the worker in question, the owner appears to admit to the action in a statement.
“I am deeply sorry for what I did in the heat of a very tense moment during a robbery on Sunday,” Stone wrote to Eater SF. “I reacted improperly during a very tense moment. I have sought forgiveness with GOD, Family and friends.”
Witnesses to the event on Sunday question Stone’s allegation that visitors to the store engaged in theft. “This business owner just chased a group of young black kids out of Cornology yelling, ‘dont come back here NI——RS!,’ one purported witness, Fay Eastman-Adams wrote in a Facebook post. She and another witness deny that the young men in question stole items from the store, but merely knocked over items in response in to Stone’s actions.
Cornology sells popcorn in flavors like butter, cheddar, and chocolate drizzle at stores in Emeryville, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, and Japan. A North Beach location has been closed, but a new San Francisco outpost is expected to open “near Golden Gate Park” by the “end of April” according to Cornology’s website.
Reacting with outrage to the story on social media, Yelpers have flooded the Emeryville store’s page with negative comments. The incident comes as Starbucks prepares to close 8,000 stores for employee training in response to an incident of racial bias at a Philadelphia cafe. Meanwhile, in Berkeley, a cafe accused of another incident of racial bias in 2015 recently closed after failing to convene a promised educational event in response to the incident.