Grabbing a drink from Tropical Smoothie Cafe is always the same for Cassandra Peoples. One “Detox Island” smoothie to-go. $5.49 at the register.
However, when Peoples, 47, looked down at her receipt Wednesday morning after leaving the cafe, located at 3345 SW 34th St., with her regular order, she saw the words “Black Chick” where the customer’s name usually reads on the receipt, the Gainesville native said.
“That’s never happened before in my life, and I know things like that happen to people every day,” she said. “I’m pretty upset.”
Peoples said she placed her order with the employee who took her cash and gave her the receipt. A separate employee, who made the smoothie, was rude to her after Peoples complained she was making the drink incorrectly, she said.
It wasn’t until after she walked out of the store with the receipt and drink, that she noticed what was written where her name should’ve been. She held onto the receipt because she wanted to call Tropical Smoothie’s corporate office to complain about the employee she felt was rude while making her drink, she said.
The employee who wrote the receipt asked for her name only once, she said.
She then posted a picture of the receipt on her Facebook page to speak out. By noon, her friend, Samantha Siragusa, reposted it to the public Facebook group “Gainesville Word of Mouth,” a network for Gainesville residents that has more than 12,000 members. By 7 p.m., the post, which had received hundreds of reactions and comments, had been taken down.
Julie Bartz, the general manager of the Tropical Smoothie branch, said the situation had been “taken care of” but would not comment further on how or whether there were any repercussions for the employees in light of the incident.
In a Facebook comment on the “Word of Mouth” post, Bartz announced she had fired the employee.
A spokesperson for corporate Tropical Smoothie, Andie Biederman, said the employee was fired hours after the incident became public.
“This type of conduct clearly does not reflect the values of our brand or our commitment to creating a welcoming environment at each and every location,” Biederman wrote in an email. “We apologize to all of our loyal guests.”
Peoples said she didn’t want to speak to whether an employee should’ve been fired or not for what happened. She also stressed that Bartz has to share some blame in the incident, too. Peoples said she’s had a number of run-ins recently with employees from Bartz’ branch.
“Recently, she’s hired a lot of unprofessional people there, I’ve had run-ins with other employees,” she said. “It’s up to her to hire them.”