Racist Receipt From Papa John’s Spurs Twitter Outcry


Another reason to check your receipt: After buying a pizza from the Hamilton Heights branch of Papa John’s in New York City on Saturday, Harlem resident Minhee Cho discovered that an employee had described her using the racial slur, “lady chinky eyes.” Cho posted a photo of the receipt (you can see it at the New York Daily News) on Twitter and tweeted:

“Hey @PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t ‘lady chinky eyes’”

Cho commented that she was “surprised” to see the racist phrase as “the lady that was serving me was super nice and we joked and it seemed super normal.”

Papa John’s responded quickly, saying via Twitter on Saturday evening that the employee (a sixteen-year-old girl, says Gothamist) had been fired and expressing shock at the incident:

We are very upset by recent receipt issue in New York & sincerely apologize to our customer. Franchise employee involved is being terminated.

The pizza chain had no choice but to respond with alacrity. After Cho tweeted about the receipt, it was viewed over 200,000 times over the weekend, according to CNN.

Papa John’s Managers, Owner Respond

In addition, a Papa Johns assistant manager said in the New York Daily News that she apologized on behalf of her employees, describing them as “not bad people.” She also said that she did not “know why they wrote that but I’m sure they didn’t mean to offend her in any way.” Gothamist quotes a manager named Jerome, who said he thought that Cho had “put it [the receipt] out there just to get some attention—some people like that type of attention”; he noted that employees identify customers and their orders sometimes with phrases like “‘the lady with the blue eyes’ or ‘the guy in the green shirt.’”

The former employee may have been unaware of the racist language she used, but it seems all the more important that someone let her know that she indeed used such language. The store’s owner, Ronald Johnson, has attributed her use of the offensive language to “hip hop culture” and said he plans on holding sensitivity training for employees. While emphasizing in the New York Daily News that he was “very shocked” and “very, very upset about it,” he notes in Gothamist that he initially hesitated to fire the teenager, saying that it may have been more helpful to her in the long run to speak to her about needing “a certain decorum and level of professionalism [at minimum wage jobs].”

As ProPublica spokesman Mike Webb told CNN, Cho herself is ready for the incident to be over and “has nothing more to say.” While much of the attention she has received has been supportive, one person questioned her for being at Papa John’s at all, tweeting “Whoever did this needs to get fired. But the real issues is you are in NYC getting Papa Johns, why?!?” Gothamist says that Papa John’s is trying to get in touch with Cho.

I would think that the now-former employee has learned a lesson that will hopefully lead to greater sensitivity on her part, rather than anger over being terminated from her job. Given that the Papa John’s branch is in an urban location with a very diverse (racially, ethnically) population, shouldn’t the company have thought to provide sensitivity training to employees before such an incident occurred, not to mention the bad feelings (worse than any from eating too much greasy pizza) caused by it?


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Photo by taberandrew


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

they dont seem very sorry

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle4 years ago

The fired 16 yr old SHOULD have learned a lesson -- sometimes you just have to get hit in the face with a frying pan, to have a point sink in. Ignorance must be combated.

Jackie Agusta
Jackie Agusta4 years ago

Disgraceful :-(

Sarah M.
Sarah M.4 years ago

They sure don't seem sorry. This is so wrong!

Vernon C.
.4 years ago


Very simple explanation for your apparent confusion. Quite frankly I do not use any of the words. The only reason why I write out the word chink is because it is already written out in its usage here on this forum so I continue to use it in that fashion. The n-word is not in question here & it is not used here at all, so I just decided to tread on the side of caution & write it in the way I did. If in the article it was written out then I would certainly write it out. But I do acknowledge that is just as stupid because everyone knows what I mean anyhow & whether you write it out or abbreviate it, the intent is the same. Which was actually one of my earlier points.

By the way I did not say that blacks are ok with the usage of the n-word. I said that many YOUNG black people refer to themselves by that word especially those who are fans of rap music. There are many older blacks who do not even like their own color using it.

In any case, the n-word is much more empowered than the word chink because of the bad press it has received thru the history of our times. But nowadays I have known some white children to use it unconcernedly because they do not know the history of the word & only know of it thru rap music. I mean, if you are singing along with Snoop Dogg or 50 cents, what do you do? Just stop singing everytime the word appears? Have you ever watched a movie called "White Chicks". Very funny movie.

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S.4 years ago

LOL, Vernon, you seem to need a little educating. Let me point out that you are too scared to use anything besides the term "n-word" repeatedly but you think "chink" is okay. Your whole argument is about making these words mean nothing and that black people are ok with the "n-word". If that's true, why do you only say "n-word" but write out "chink"? Why don't you ask yourself why you clearly lose your own argument, do not exercise any logic and appear to completely lack any sense at all.

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S.4 years ago

This store manager Jerome is an idiot. What kind of dummy tries to compare an obvious racial slur with clothing or eye-color descriptions? BTW Jerome, if I call you "[the] manager with [a] tiny brain" that's NOT racist. If I were to instead describe you by any outwardly visible physical characteristic, trait or handicap that you have (of course, I neither know what you look like nor do I care to know), that would extremely inappropriate behavior for any company representative and should be immediate termination.

Vernon C.
.4 years ago


If we can de-power these so-called insulting terms as the youth of today is doing, then that is a good thing, not a bad thing.

I know also for a fact that teens do call asians chinks. They even call their asian teen friends by that name & it is accepted by these asian teens. Now we get some old fogeys who is living in the past castigating the girl for a commonly accepted term used among the youth of today.

Vernon C.
.4 years ago


Lady momma boy basement dweller is funny because I left my momma's house at 23yrs old & now own my own home. Well I own 3 for that matter but I rent out 2 of them. Also I do not eat pizza because I do not use dairy products.

I agree with Annmari. As I said in my country it is common to call orientals coolie men. And they refer to themselves as such too. Young black people openly & publicly refer to themselves by the n-word. Do you know how many young white teens I know that do not know that the n-word is an insult? And this is because in rap music the word is used in a positive fashion (sometimes). Rap music is a very popular music among the youth of today & its influence is extensive. Times change & we have to understand that young people have their own vocab now. Bill Cosby spoke at length of the unacceptance of the n-word. Do you believe that it made a difference? I totally respect Bill Cosby but he is from another time. The younger folk do not know how things use to be & so do not understand the struggle for equality.

I have seen t-shirts with Whites proudly displaying the words "I am a redneck". I have seen guys wearing shirts that say "honkey" & the n-word & a host of other slogans that were once seen as insulting. This is a new age & we have to come to terms with that fact & stop living in the past. If we can de-power these so-called insulting terms as the youth of today is doing, then that is a good thing, not a

Patrick F.
Patrick f.4 years ago

Annmari L. You are comparing apples and oranges, a slight similarity in the name of a product is not the same as referring to an individual as anything but their name, why didn't they just ask her name? Maybe an apology and a slight change in policy would suffice,that is up to Ms. Cho to decide. No mention of a law suit ...