Does Oceana Have a Racist Restaurant Week Back Room Just for Asians?

Oceana, the fancy seafood restaurant on 49th btw. 6+7th, is definitely not a Midtown Lunch… but this is way too funny not to post.  On Sunday, Chubby Chinese Girl (the Midtown Lunch’er who came up with Cer Te’s Feburary Sandwich of the Month) had a restaurant week lunch at Oceana and was escorted through a practically empty main dining room to a back room that was filled with all Asian diners (6 tables in all.)  Obviously (or not?) Oceana isn’t racist, according to this their Executive Pastry Chef is Asian and even CCG admitted that she enjoyed the service and the food.  But the photo is kind of damning.  (Hilariously damning.)  There must be a perfectly good explanation for all of this, right Oceana?

We contacted GM Paul McLaughlin for comment, and he told us that the back room is actually the preferred dining area during lunchtime.  It’s away from the kitchen and the bar, plus has giant windows on two walls of the room- including one that looks out onto the newly designed waterfall walk through between 48th and 49th Streets.  As for why all the customers were Asian?  He said that was just a Restaurant Week coincidence.  According to Paul, Asian people come out in droves every year for their Restaurant Week menus: “Just counted my guests from Sunday, we did 191 lunches Sunday, 95 guests were Asian or have Asian names. That’s 49%.”

I suppose his story checks out… but that photo is still hilarious!


  • Perhaps it’s retribution for those secret menus you have at Chinese restaurants.

  • I wonder Oceana GM ordered the waiters to seat asians in the back..or they just instinctively did it.
    Both my sis and brother in law are in restaurant industry so I hear a lot of things…and as Anthony Bourdain said, almost all the cooks in these restaurants are run by non-white but that doesn’t mean the restaurant is not a racist. Not too many white people are willing to put up with all the sh*t going on behind the kitchen with the min. pay.

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    I wouldn’t jump to call it racism. But I wouldn’t put it past them to seat the *young* people in the back room. A 23 year old looking guy in an Izod shirt isn’t a big spender or a regular customer.

    Blame it on the Asians for appearing younger than they are! That’s a problem I wish I had.

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    I always get the impression restaurants place good looking people (usually Asian) close to windows so pedestrians can see our animated and delighted faces while eating….unlike whities who eat like expressionless ghosts who just left the gates of hell.

  • LOL you guys really entertained me this morning… too funny LOL

  • Hosts do discriminate but not just based on race. How you’re dressed also determines where you’re seated, so that you don’t feel out of place wearing a tshirt amongst suits. Happens to me all the time but I try not to make a comment because insinuating racism generally pisses people off and I’d rather not get extra sauce on my plate if you know what I mean.

    Also, what’s with you people of minority always seeing through a prism of race?

    • we did take that into consideration… the dress part… but it wasnt a suit kinda place… and it was lunch…. and people out there weren’t dressy… so i threw that out the window =)

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      If you lived as a minority in another country, you too would see many things through a prism of race.

      • Well, I kinda meant the last comment in jest. “You people” is kind of a running joke around here for some of us. And for the record, I am part of the minority. But I’m more of the school of thought that says “race exists but it doesn’t matter.”

        Case in point: I’ve been discriminated against by ‘my own kind’ when I went back to Vietnam. Ex-pats get just as much heat and the hate isn’t racially motivated.

      • Coming from a person who calls themselves ‘Paki’, I can’t really pin down what’s going on here.

  • “Lowest on the totem pole” – omg racist!

  • CCC is definately false advertising… except maybe all Chinese girls are wafer thin so a normal size female….is called chubby…

    but the reality is, just guessing.., resturants actually HATE the RWeek customers. they don’t order anything but the special, they don’t tip, they stay too long… etc…

    and if, as it appears, Asians love RWeek, and you show up as an Asian during RWeek… its like .. oh great another $40 table with no tip.. and you get the cheap seats…

    just saying.. If you liked the other location I am sure they would have jumped to reseat you if you said anything..

    • but I’m just saying why should they assume!? right? I mean… our bill was a lot more than that… we ordered drinks… i mean they wouldn’t have known that we were there for restaurant week if not based on the fact that we were Asians and they assumed…

    • FYI thanks for calling it false advertising btw… but if u’ve ever been to Asia… you’d know what i mean… =) but thanks again! LOL now I can continue eating

  • yeah for sure they assumed… but that’s how the brain works.. do you know that your eyes actually don’t pick up everything that you see? the brain makes assumptions and fills in the blanks automatically.

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    Asians are inherently cheap. That’s why Asians love restaurant weeks. That’s also the reason why Asians have higher savings and lower cc debts.

  • Asians arent cheap. We’re just smart shoppers. My dad wont pay for a 20k watch at full price, my wife will wait online for 2 hours to buy a 10k bag at 80% off.

  • Is that you in forefront of the picture, CCG?

  • Who cares if Asians come out for RW, isn’t it better we’re filling their tables and they’re making money? Also that’s the whole point of RW, to try out new places. If we like it, we’ll come back for more. Restaurants like Oceana should be more appreciative we’re filling their tables.

  • For Industry people:

    Do restaurants track race/gender/other demographics of their guests?

    Just curious about how the GM came up with his numbers…just based on names?

  • This is obviously so-called reverse racism. The restaurant knows that 99% of food bloggers are Asian and wanted to give y’all the best seats in the house so they’d get a good review.

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    LOL this is overt racism.
    c’mon, just face it – we Asians are cheap, but we are rich; we have squinty eyes, but we are intelligent.

    For those who choose to believe in color blindness and think that minorities are overreacting, i’m sorry for you. consider relocating to a place where you’re racially and/or ethnically different and get a feel for it. then you’ll understand.

    i guess whoever gets seated at the back should ask the waitress/GM if they realize they’re putting us at the back of the bus… i mean, the back of the restaurant.

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    You’re not being paranoid. Same type of thing has happened to me and my gf several times. Thing is, she wasn’t aware of it. We would be seated next to the noisy restrooms at places like Bubba Gump even though there were empty booths in the main area of the restaurant.

    In other restaurants, service would be incredibly slow. We would see people who came several minutes after us getting their drinks and placing their orders before we’ve even been greeted by a waiter.

    The type of condescending, dismissive, and racist responses that are being posted on here by non-asians further strengthen the case that there’s an underlying act of racism going on.

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    As a restaurant manager, I can tell you this may not be a coincidence. Several years ago I was managing a high profile place with a small side room that was difficult to seat – people very often would stop as you were walking them to the table and say that they want to air in the main room.
    One day I walked through that room and noticed it was filled with Asian diners. I went to the host stand and asked the hostess what the deal was. She said “I put them there because they don’t refuse the table.” I asked her “don’t you think an Asian person might notice this?” she admitted it wasn’t a good idea and promised not to do it again.
    So next time just ask to be seated at another table in the main room. And no, they aren’t goin to spit in your food.

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    Tracking customers based on Asian-sounding names seems a little creepy to me. Do they track customers based on what religion they may be, also? Could Paul McLaughlin tell us the Jewish/Gentile breakdown of his guests?

  • I’m usually seated way in the back of restaurants because I’m fat and ugly. But I don’t go complaining about it. I would be put off my food if I had to walk by me. That can’t be the problem with Asians, though, I find them very appetizing.

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