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South Side bar's new dress code creates controversy

A South Side bar owner’s dress code is generating calls for a boycott.

Andrew Balint recently posted the dress code for Twelve Whiskey BBQ and it began circulating on social media. African-Americans in Pittsburgh began to take notice, saying the guidelines seem to target them.

“I'm not going to give my money and enrich your livelihood if you don't respect me as a person. This is a matter of respect,” said Khamil Scantling.


Twelve's dress code, titled "proper attire," contains a long list of clothing that's no longer accepted, including Timberland boots, Air Jordan sneakers, baggy clothing, flashy jewelry and hoodies.

The problem is, people like Scantling say the specificity in this list appears to target a certain demographic of people.

"I wasn't surprised. For a long time, South Side has been a place that has not welcomed the overall culture of the African-American community," she said.

"I think that all of us have to recognize that the 1964 Civil Rights Act banned discrimination and public accommodation," said anthropologist and historian Tracy Baton. "But this type of dog-whistle racism is everywhere."

Balint declined an interview with Channel 11, saying he was out of town, but he did take to Facebook to respond to recent backlash. In a post, he writes in part, "Everyone that knows me 100 percent know(s) that I cater to a more mature crowd."

Over the phone, he told Channel 11 the dress code only applies on weekends after 10 p.m., and on Thursday he issued a statement.

"When we purchased the property five years ago, our goal was to build a restaurant offering great food and a friendly atmosphere. Our dress code was implemented and enforced two years ago to ensure both the safety of our customers and employees. It takes effect only on Friday and Saturday nights after 10p.m., as the SouthSide gets populated with a younger demographic then our regular clientele caters to on the weekend. To date we have had no incidents inside of our property and are just trying to create a safe and enjoyable experience at our South Side location."

Baton has studied different cultures in Pittsburgh for years, and told Channel 11 there is a perception problem with the South Side right now.

While Balint told Channel 11 he no longer plans on posting the dress code, Scantling feels it's already done damage to the community.

"The city of Pittsburgh can be really the most livable city for everybody here, and I think situations like having this dress code posted at Twelve are backpedaling the progress that Pittsburgh is making," she said.