After being the subject of heated online discussion over the past two days for alleged racism against black Africans, The Alchemist bar has announced that it is closing its doors.
A statement issued Monday night said this was to pave the way for investigations by the Nairobi County Government into fresh racism claims which have befallen the Westlands-based joint.
“After careful consultation with Nairobi County Government, The Alchemist has agreed to close its doors while a thorough investigation is conducted over the next few days,” read the statement.
The club said the probe would see a review of Saturday night’s events, where a bouncer was videotaped purportedly sending a Black patron out of the queue which appeared to only have non-Blacks, to determine if the guests in question were denied entry and if there was a policy in place to have separate lines for guests.
Individuals in the said video, Alchemist said, would be interviewed and footage throughout the entire evening reviewed.
“Review of The Alchemist, in general, to determine if there has ever been a policy of discrimination. Interviews and footage will be reviewed of the past events both at the gate and inside the establishment,” the statement further noted.
“Review of the 3rd Party Security Services based on interviews and footage to determine what actions and recommendations should occur.”
In the incident captured by a patron in a now-viral video, the man recording the video is overheard saying:
“This is racist, I swear!… So there’s a White people line and a Black people line?”
“They might let him through because he has an accent,” he says, after which the bouncer is seen shouting at the patron, ‘Just go!’
“They have actually sent him back!” another patron exclaims.
The Alchemist apologized for the incident on Sunday, saying,
“To anyone that has felt aggrieved, we sincerely apologize and we look forward to sitting down together and addressing these issues head-on.”
The club would later follow it up with a series of tweets distancing itself from the allegations, writing:
“We have reviewed footage from the alleged incident and we’re sharing it for everyone to see. There is only one entrance line for people to come in from”.
“There’s people of every background in that line,” wrote the bar, alongside what it claimed was CCTV footage of the entrance from Saturday night.
The club further went ahead to say that it had reached out to the man who was supposedly sent away via phone,
“ and he confirmed he had no issues, he didn’t even know that camera footage of him had been filmed and released.”
“We will update security & procedures,” added the joint.
The Alchemist describes itself as “a diverse collective of wacky and determined entrepreneurs in food, fashion, music and more” but is no stranger to accusations of racial discrimination.
In August 2018, it came under fire after a customer identified as Cynthia claimed that a guard had refused her seating on grounds that the seats were only meant for White people and Kenyans of Asian descent.
“We spoke with Cynthia on the phone. She’ll be the first to tell you that there WERE people of all colors in every area. The issue was over statements made by a particular bouncer,” said the club at the time.
“We have recently heard complaints from you that specifically contracted bouncers in our venue and spoken in a racist manner towards you and your friends. This is behaviour that we will ever condone or accept, we sincerely apologize for any hurt that this has caused,” it added then, in a statement to Cynthia.