Business Casual? Man Turned Away From Da Marco for Wearing Sneakers

damarcosign.jpg
Photo by Kent Wang
Today's specials are on the board. The dress code is not.
On Tuesday afternoon, a person who frequently interacts with Eating...Our Words on Twitter tweeted the following statement:

We went to the Da Marco website to search for a description of the dress code that had been violated, but we couldn't find anything. The menu is all there, along with the hours of operation, contact information and the location, all clearly listed. There's a link to make reservations on OpenTable. On Da Marco's Open Table page -- under "More Details" -- is a description of the dress code: Business casual. As far as we can tell, that's the only place the code is listed.

So we emailed the sneaker-wearing would-be customer to get the whole story.

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Photo courtesy Daniel Bernal
The shoes in question.
"The entire discussion took 30 seconds," Daniel Bernal wrote back to us. "The hostess said hello, waited for us to say that we had a reservation for 3 p.m. (booked online), stared at me for five seconds, and then asked if I had another pair of shoes. We said no ...? Then she said something like, 'We have a dress code, and you won't be able to enter wearing sneakers.' Then she looked at the guy at the door, who said, 'Sorry, yeah. Sorry.'"

The two diners laughed off the incident and left without arguing. Bernal told us they ate at Underbelly instead.

"We have a dress code that is business casual: no sneakers, shorts, T-shirts or hats. I believe it's on the website, and it's posted at the entrance," a hostess at Da Marco told us.

Again, we could not find any evidence of a dress code on Da Marco's website, but people who eat there often note that the dress code seems to be understood by most diners. We did ask the hostess if accommodations could be made for someone with, for example, foot problems, such as an elderly person who needs to wear sneakers for support. She said in those cases, wearing sneakers would be fine, but added that the person would have to arrange to do so in advance.

businesscasualll.jpg
Photo from thinkstock.com
This is business casual, according to the Internet.
It's a sticky situation for, sure, but it raises a question: Are dress codes still relevant in Houston restaurants in 2014? Should dress codes be clearly listed, or should people just be expected to know the details?

And what is business casual anyway? GQ Magazine includes sneakers in its slideshow of business casual attire, while other sites suggest jeans are appropriate when paired with the proper shirt.

What do you think?

Location Info

Da Marco

1520 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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41 comments
ScooterLivinsgton1
ScooterLivinsgton1

Remind me to never eat there if I am ever in Houston.


Please tell me how wearing sneakers affects dining. Do people stare at other's people's feet while dining there?


"Business casual"...I'm self employed and work out my home. My dress code? Underwear.


Believe it or not, my money is just as good as the GQ model dining near me.

iAlexCol
iAlexCol

And That's how you lose a good Client. Stupid!!

Jimi Austin
Jimi Austin

Its a snooty restaurant, what do you expect? Spend your money somewhere else.

Dream123
Dream123

I've eaten here at least 10 times with tennis shoes on "converse" over the last 5 years. Thanks for the heads up Misha, maybe they have a new dress code or are enforcing it finally. 


dream

Donnol Hem
Donnol Hem

this belongs in Yelp not the Houston Press

_sid.
_sid.

Seriously, is this news?

Learn some etiquette. Go to Olive Garden if you want to eat Italian in running shoes. I was raised to always wear a collared shirt and shoes when dining, tuck the shirt in.

I cheat on the jeans; or as my grandparents called them dungarees. But if I was denied, I'd understand my fate. So be it.

Sid Jacobson
Sid Jacobson

I was turned away for wearing sneakers ten years ago... so what. It was my bad decision.

fernanda
fernanda

Misha = Alison Cook's bitchy boy-toy, again complaining about Houston restaurants and name-dropping along the way (all these great global places I've been to!)  in order to substantiate his whining. Yes, yes, Misha, we see you, you matter my boy. Keep tweeting us.

CR250
CR250

What's next for this guy, complaining that they made him wear a coat at Galatoire's, a tie at the 21 Club.  Geez, get over it, its their business not yours.  Go somewhere else, which you did. 

tinyhands
tinyhands

The word "business" in business casual is not to be taken literally, as in the clothes in which YOU do business. If I buy something from Amazon in my pajamas, does that make an old pair of sweatpants business attire? Food can be purchased from Papa John's, but that doesn't exactly make it a restaurant. A diamond ring can be bought from a pawn shop, but that doesn't make it a jewelry store. The point is, you can't take everything literally - there are some generally agreed-upon standards for what is one thing and not another. to that point, like it or not, "business casual" "business attire" and "business formal" all have specific meanings with very little room for personal interpretation.


Some of the other comments mention other restaurants and what some people wear to them. I think that if more restaurants enforced their dress code, misunderstandings like this one might occur less frequently. "Well I got away with wearing jeans at so-and-so, why can't I wear them here?"  That's obviously not a very good argument.

triggerbitch
triggerbitch

The guy who Tweeted about this probably takes up two spaces in parking lots and yells at guys at the car wash.

jeffbalke
jeffbalke

Maybe they should put up a sign that says "No dress shirt. No dress shoes. No dice."

vonSchiessen
vonSchiessen

I think Da Marco understands their business better than Misha knows. The restaurant began its life fairly casually, but has evolved into the "in" place for many in the social set and many who 'power lunch' there to impress clients and prospects. So, unfortunately you gotta pay attention to these things in order to retain your image among this group. If you want more casual Italian, his other restaurants, Dolce Vita and Poscol, fill that niche. You can even wear your black concert t!

JayPFrancis1
JayPFrancis1

No service for someone in attractive sneakers? Unacceptable. Why, that's like a Vegan restaurant turning away someone who is wearing a leather belt and leather shoes because it might offend another patron at the restaurant. They should have taken a vote. Gone around to all the tables and asked the diners if they would have a problem if someone came in wearing sneakers.

heyheyJ
heyheyJ

Um yeah, I went to Ousie's Table on Valentines Day last year and dressed up but I saw a ton of people wearing jeans (not even fancy jeans, I might add. I'm talking Levi's and Lees) and sneakers. Ousie's is also a "nice" restaurant in a fancy area, and Open Table also lists the dress code as business casual. I chalked up what I saw as just a statement about Houston (and also the country) itself being casual and that nobody really follows those rules anymore. If one "fancy" restaurant allows jeans and sneakers and lists their dress code as business casual, how do you determine which other fancy ones, who ALSO lists their dress code as business casual, won't allow them? 


And the name calling throughout this thread is pathetic and trashier than anyone wearing sneakers to a restaurant. 

bergdorf8
bergdorf8

One of the great, confusing things about modernity is that there are very few rules. That's one of the fun things about watching Downton Abbey:  seeing how rules fall by the wayside, as one order crumbles and a new one emerges, inventing its own rules as it goes.


Houstess
Houstess

Grow up and then start dressing like it.  Few things chap more than this type of selfish, slobby, sandlot whiney mentality.  People dine there for special events. Your incredibly narcissistic attitude detracts from that.  Take it on down the road to Katz's.  It never closes, you know.  

tenmen
tenmen

I took a dump there once and didn't flush it.

one.mickster
one.mickster

I suspect that Brad Pitt gets in with jeans, Chucks, and a t-shirt --

paval
paval topcommenter

Dresscodes are for many restaurants a way to turn away people they do not like and fit under the "The house reserves its right to refuse service to anyone". it happens at club doors, restaurants, etc. If a famous person comes along, I am sure any restaurant will bend backwards to let them dine at their place, pretty much regardless of how they dress. Its good advertising to have the rich and famous eating or clubbing at your place. 


of course any place that turns away people risks public outrage, nowadays more than anytime, so having clearly posted rules is probably easier to explain when shit hits the fan. 


But if the rules are after all arbitrary, the big question is: "Do we even need them"


I am a big advocate pro dressing appropriately in public at all times. But what if after one day of drinking on a patio in Midtown in shorts and flip flops I want to go eat and i live in Westchase. Do I need to go home and change so I can go to eat at a good place, do I go to Jack in the Box only because there they have no dress code, do I have to forgo Midtowns restaurants and eat in my neck of the woods? 

 

 

chronic_fatigue
chronic_fatigue

seriously, this is complete bullshit. only would some entitled idiot on twitter feel that he and his friend are a special case and that the rules should be bent or ignored for them. grow up people – the world is not your oyster, the customer is not always right.

FRL713
FRL713

I don't see the issue here.  Yes, dress codes are still relevant in 2014 if an establishment cares to implement one.  Customers should respect the business and their fellow patrons enough to comply without resorting to petty name calling.

chronic_fatigue
chronic_fatigue

the real "dick" in this case is the person who tweeted about this. something that happens all the time and was a non-story before social media. who cares

chronic_fatigue
chronic_fatigue

this is not a story. the restaurant has a code and the customer complied. restaurants should be able to uphold their own dress codes. and you shouldn't be wearing sneakers to Da Marco in the first place. have a little class and self-respect. Misha, go f-yourself

mgovshteyn
mgovshteyn

I posted the original tweet about being turned away at Da Marco, so I should probably provide some context. 


I've been to Da Marco on numerous occasions and am well aware of how most patrons dress, but the reality is that I work with software developers and business casual doesn't mean anything to them (it means nothing to most people, in fact). I usually try to bump the dress level in my party, but we've often had people in jeans and Chuck Taylors, and have never been turned away at the door. 


What I prepared my friend for before we got to Da Marco is that the staff is usually exceptionally nice, but the GM is a giant asshole. He will size you up, decide that your station in life is incompatible with lofty standards set by Da Marco clientele and treat you like you're a kid from the ghetto on a field trip to experience how the other half lives. It just so happened that this time, we didn't even make it past the door. 


I am more amused than upset, but Da Marco is making a big mistake treating anyone this way. My friend was visiting from Colombia and was indistinguishable from anyone who spends their day at the computer (and even had a collar on his shirt). Now he's seen a part of Houston I am not proud of. 


I've seen Japanese tourists in what looked like rainbow colored track suits at Pierre Gagnaire enjoying a meal. I have seen the staff at Noma treat everyone like family, no matter who they are or what they wear. I have seen the entire team at Faviken bend over backwards to make you feel at home, even if you were a local from the village of Are wearing a sweats as you ate one of the best meals in the world. 


If these restaurants can get over the indignity of someone wearing sneakers, surely the GM at Da Marco can get off his high horse and wait until we're seated to treat us like village idiots. We knew it was part of the experience and were kind of looking forward to being belittled, as we ate the not-always-consistent-food at Da Marco. 

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

I'm all for restaurants establishing codes of conduct and dress in order to attract a certain clientele.  But I do think they to to better define what their dress code is.  I work in an environment that I would describe as business casual where 25 years ago men would be wearing button-up shirts and ties. Now people wear things like jeans and tennis shoes but not shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, etc.


So bottom line is that it appears that Da Marco handled the situation ok and the would-be diners were not jerks.  But if Da Marco had made their policy a bit clearer then I suspect the sneaker-wearing dude would have worn a different pair of shoes and everything would have been copacetic.  If I were Da Marco I'd update my dress code and allow sneakers if the overall appearance of the patron conforms to the minimum standard of business causal.



WestSideBob
WestSideBob topcommenter

I eat quite a few meals in various restaurants.  I bypass many establishments due to dress codes.  I'm not going to dress for lunch on Saturday afternoon.  Too many really good restaurants in H-town to try. I'll forgo those with pretentious attitudes.

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@_sid. 

No, this is not news. If you're looking for news then do not go to a local food blog. But surely this is exactly the sort of thing that is relevant on a food blog.


And sneaker dude was dressed in contemporary business casual attire. So he had every reason to expect to be served. This isn't the 1970s.

mgovshteyn
mgovshteyn

@fernanda This is an great comment. Much respect. 

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@tinyhands 

I would loosely define business casual as what you might wear at a typical white-collar office. Comfortable shoes, including what some people call sneakers, are now common in the office. I would think the definition of business casual should change with the reality of what business casual actually is.

heyheyJ
heyheyJ

@tinyhands I wasn't saying one ought to be able to get away with one thing just b/c they were able to at another restaurant, I'm just saying it's really confusing. I wasn't making an argument.

tinyhands
tinyhands

@JayPFrancis1 "Attractive" is relative and I disagree with you on this point. But interrupt everyone's meal because someone came in wearing them? That's even worse than letting him in.

chronic_fatigue
chronic_fatigue

@mgovshteynso in other words, you went in looking for trouble? if you knew this may have been an issue, here's a suggestion: go to another restaurant you entitled punk

tinyhands
tinyhands

@Bruce_Are @tinyhands  There are many places outside of Houston (Wall Street, K Street) where business casual is still commonly understood as requiring a solid color or non-primarily-red necktie for men. So what I believe you're describing is "modern American business casual" or perhaps "Southern business casual." I'm sure you could find a definition for "California business casual" or "Hawaiian business casual" that's even more relaxed than what you describe. While I welcome the descriptions/definitions, it is not the same as "business casual" which still (in 2014, worldwide) includes either brogues, oxfords, some boots (not including cowboy, except non-cowhide leather) and some loafers (not including moccasins). Regardless of their price and/or appearance, the definition of business casual simply does not include sneakers, trainers, sandals, or thongs.


Most of all, business casual also does not include the rolled-up jeans as pictured above.

tinyhands
tinyhands

@heyheyJ @tinyhands I didn't mean to single you or anyone else out. But part of the problem is that DaMarco is one of the few restaurants that appears to have ENFORCED a dress code, though many state that they have them. There are restaurants in the area that have "no children" policies (some after a certain point in the evening) and they all enforce it. So while it may be an initial shock, the public has generally gotten the hint about those rules. Similarly, if the "nicer" establishments (and I'll let them define themselves as such or not) would all agree to uniformly apply their dress codes, this likely wouldn't have been an issue.

mgovshteyn
mgovshteyn

I'm not sure I understand your question. Did we go to Da Marco looking to get thrown out? No. It was lunch. One of us really wanted to go to Da Marco, so we went in looking for food.

Given your level of reading comprehension this is going to be difficult, but go back and read my comment. I've been to Da Marco many times, sometimes with people wearying sneakers. This has never been an issue.

For someone with this many opinions and insults you sure seem protective of your identity. If you're going to mount up and get angry, don't be a bitch and use your real name.

mgovshteyn
mgovshteyn

@chronic_fatigue This isn't complicated. That is my real name. M is the initial for "Misha" (you can see it referenced in the Tweet in the story), Govshteyn is my last name. 


http://www.linkedin.com/in/mgovshteyn


I don't need you to tell me where to go eat. I don't allow the presence of assholes to dictate where I eat. I didn't say a single word at Da Marco yesterday and my prior experiences with this GM had nothing to do with our being thrown out. 


And just to be clear - at this moment you're still an anonymous little bitch. 

chronic_fatigue
chronic_fatigue

@mgovshteynYour words, "What I prepared my friend for before we got to Da Marco is that the staff is usually exceptionally nice, but the GM is a giant asshole." So, you went in with an attitude. If you feel the GM is a giant asshole, eat somewhere else.

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