Another former BluFin employee speaks out as owner publicly apologizes

Another former BluFin Sushi employee says the culture of the restaurant led to constant suspicion of customers of color, particularly black patrons who the former bar manager says was under constant watch by the Grosse Pointe Farms bar’s owner.

Derrick Sparks worked at BluFin late last year during the same time as former general manager Daniel Carlisle, who spoke to BLAC Sunday evening about his experiences there. Sparks talked to BLAC Tuesday morning about his experiences working there.

“I’ve personally witnessed (the owner) talk poorly about black people and other minorities,” Sparks says. “I’ve for sure heard the n-word slur on multiple occasions.”

BluFin Sushi has been under fire since Saturday night when three black women say they were rushed out of the establishment by the bar’s current general manager to make room for other employees.

On Monday night, BluFin owner Joel Radu apologized in a news report that aired on WJBK Monday night. Frequent calls to the restaurant have been met by a busy signal.

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“I wasn't here that night. Staff is always a challenge to make sure that they say and do the right things,” he told the TV station. “I don’t know how this situation was handled. That’s part of the investigation.”

Both Sparks and Carlisle say Radu closely monitored black customers, while Sparks adds that the bar’s current general manager Katherine Fiscelli – who was named several times as the offending employee in the claims from the three black women – “abused other customers and did things like tell the host to seat white people first when they are busy with a wait, because she believed that the white customers spent more money there.”

And, Sparks says, “Joel was constantly watching people from the back office camera and on multiple occasions singled minorities out thinking they might skip out on the tab or whatever. You can literally just ask one of the 100 people he has fired or had quit over the last month. The rap sheet goes on and on.”

In his accounts, Carlisle said he brought aboard three employees from Diablo’s Cantina and Red Fox in Royal Oak when he began working at BluFin last September. They were all fired, he says, at the same time when several sushi chefs left the bar.

Sparks was also fired, noting that he quit three other jobs to work at BluFin. “My girlfriend was a host and she was also let go, but was not told why.”

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