Editor's note: We have updated this post to include comments from another former BluFin employee. For more from both employees, click here. BLAC has also reached out to other former BluFin employees. Calls to BluFin are being met with a busy signal.
A former general manager of BluFin Sushi in Grosse Pointe Farms, whose current general manager is alleged to have mistreated a trio of black women Saturday night at the restaurant, says the owner frequently used racial slurs and discriminated against black patrons.
“I’m surprised that place is still in business,” Daniel Carlisle – known in hip-hop circles as Hush – tells BLAC Sunday evening. “It was only going to be a matter of time before karma’s going to bite him in the ass for what he’s done.”
Carlisle has performed for years as Hush and is co-founder of Detroit Dog Rescue and was alerted to Thrift on the Ave co-owner TaNisha Prater’s video by Ro Spit, another rapper who co-owns Burn Rubber, a sneaker boutique in Royal Oak. Carlisle says he worked at BluFin from September until November of last year before being replaced by Katherine Fiscelli – who was named several times by Prater as the offending employee.
Public records show Joel Radu as the owner of BluFin.
Carlisle lives in Grosse Pointe Woods a few minutes away from BluFin, but was working as general manager at Diablo’s Cantina and Red Fox, a joint operation in Royal Oak, when he says Radu contacted him about working at his sushi restaurant. Seeking an opportunity closer to home and allowing for more time to spend with his children, Carlisle agreed.
Shortly after beginning employment at BluFin, Carlisle says, Radu also hired one of his sons who worked at Mercury Burger Bar in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood after someone broke into his son’s car while he was on the job. “I started to think it was too good to be true,” Carlisle said.
Eventually, Carlisle brought three other employees from Diablo’s and Red Fox, as well as balancing the restaurant’s books. “The owner wasn’t a manager – he didn’t understand how to run the front of the house at all,” he says.
Then, he said, things started to change.
“This guy’s true colors started to show,” he says. “I kept on working there, and I eventually started to hear him use racial slurs. I’ve heard him use the n-word. He calls women ‘bitches.’ He had no problem talking about anybody.”
Carlisle, who is Lebanese-Italian, says he grew up in Detroit (“Let’s just say I grew up in the hood. Seven Mile and Gratiot,” he says.) and his father was a Detroit police officer who encouraged embracing everyone regardless of background. “Anyone that was even closely that type of person, I distanced myself so far away from them.”
He says he became uncomfortable working at BluFin. “There were plenty of times that black patrons would come in and (the owner) would tell me or other people, ‘make sure you watch those people. Make sure they don’t walk out of my restaurant. Be ready to call the police.’”
In the midst of this, Carlisle said he had to fire a BluFin employee who was not performing up to the job’s standards. “She had been written up three times and was insubordinate,” he says. That employee was terminated while Radu was on vacation, he says.
But when Radu returned, Carlisle says he was placed on a week-long suspension. Two weeks after the suspension, he was fired – and the employee he fired was brought back.
“(Radu) didn’t want a lawsuit,” Carlisle says, adding that his son and the three employees brought from Diablo’s and Red Fox in the aftermath, and several sushi chefs walked out from the job in the same time period.
“Everybody who knows me knows I’m a stand-up gentleman,” Carlisle says. “I’ve done a lot of great things for the community –not just Detroit, but here in Grosse Pointe. My kids go to schools in the community – my son went to Grosse Pointe North High School, I’ve got another freshman at North. In this neighborhood and in the surrounding communities, everybody was just shocked to hear what had happened to me.”
Carlisle has bounced back and has a new job, but says he urged a boycott BluFin – as have several others on social media since Sunday morning.
“I sent (Prater’s story) to my aunt this morning, and she agreed. Karma was going to come around to this,” he says.
UPDATE, 11:45 a.m. Feb. 21: BLAC has spoken to another former employee, Derrick Sparks, who worked as bar manager during the same time as Carlisle's tenure.
"I've personally witnessed (the owner) talk poorly about black people and other minorities," Sparks tells BLAC. "I've for sure heard the n-word slur on multiple occasions."
Sparks says he had quit three jobs to take the bar manager position at BluFin, but was fired "at (the owner's) request. My girlfriend was a host and she was also let go but was not told why."