Spokane bar owner under fire for telling customer “This isn’t an immigration center”

A Spokane bar owner is facing criticism for comments he made to a customer.

According to Lo Heinen, the owner of Rick’s Ringside Pub told her “This isn’t an immigration center,” then pointed to the door and told her to leave.

“It kind of stunned me so I just turned around and left,” said Heinen. “I’m not going to be somewhere I’m not welcome.”

The incident unfolded last Friday when Heinen planned to meet up with a group of friends at the Garland District bar. Heinen’s driver's license was expired and when she showed the bartender her paper ID the owner of the bar, Rick Shontell, made the comments.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” said Heinen. “I’ve never had anything that was directed at me specifically in that manner.”

Heinen was born in American Samoa but has lived in Washington her entire life, including the last decade in Spokane.

Her husband posted what had happened on Facebook and a flurry of responses followed.

Hundreds of people criticized the bar and left terrible reviews on its Facebook page, including Mac and Jack’s Brewery who wrote, “Refusing service based on one's ethnicity goes against our core values as a brewery, for this reason we ask you no longer serve our beer at your establishment.”

The bar provided KHQ with the following statement Friday:

"Rick's Ringside Pub has always been dedicated to our customers and the Garland community. We are sincerely sorry for any offense that might have been taken by any unfortunate statement made in the bar. We look forward to rebuilding trust and confidence in the Spokane and Garland community."

Prior to this statement, Rick took to Facebook and wrote, “This is Rick and I wanted to apologize for what happened last night. I don't know why I said what I said but I made a huge mistake."

Heinen doesn’t consider the apology sincere, saying she hasn’t heard directly from Shontell.

Shontell told KHQ he regrets what he said and only meant the comments as a joke.

“I don’t think anyone would pay to see a standup from him,” said Heinen. “He’s not the best at jokes.”

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