Ikea Atlanta Under Fire After Featuring Fried Chicken and Watermelon on Juneteenth Menu

People wearing face masks wait in line to shop at Ikea in Carson, California on July 4, 2020 the US Independence Day holiday. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

An IKEA store in Atlanta, Georgia, is under fire after featuring fried chicken and watermelon on its “special” menu on Juneteenth, later apologizing and pleading that it was done with the “best of intentions.”

In an email to employees, the Atlanta-based store detailed “a special menu” including fried chicken, watermelon, potato salad, mac and cheese, collard greens, and candied yams. The menu offended some employees, with one telling WGCL-TV, “You cannot say serving watermelon on Juneteenth is a soul food menu when you don’t even know the history, they used to feed slaves watermelon during the slave time.”

Employees were reportedly so upset that many wanted to quit, and 33 people called out of work. The mass volume of outrage promoted an internal email response from the store manager, who apologized over the menu options.

“None of the coworkers who sat down to create the menu, no one was black,” one of the employees said:

The store manager told employees and CBS46 that the menu changed after the issue but employees said, “They just delayed the menu by a day. Thinking that everyone who was upset by the Juneteenth menu stayed home on Juneteenth and wouldn’t notice, which just added insult to injury.”

An IKEA Atlanta spokesperson issued a statement on the matter, contending the menu was made with nothing more than the “best of intentions.”

“In addition to offering Juneteenth as one of our paid holidays nationally, our IKEA Atlanta store has recognized Juneteenth with our co-workers for the past four years,” the spokesperson said, contending there were recommendations from black coworkers.

“To honor the day, a lunch menu was created with the best of intentions, including recommendations from black co-workers,” the spokesperson said.

“We value our co-workers’ voices and changed the menu after receiving feedback that the foods that were selected are not reflective of the deeply meaningful traditional foods historically served as part of Juneteenth celebrations,” the spokesperson added.

President Joe Biden signed Juneteenth into law last week as a federal public holiday — an idea previously floated by former President Trump, as featured in his “Platinum Plan” for black Americans.

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