VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- A waitress and manager at a Mexican restaurant in Virginia Beach are upset after a customer left a message on a receipt they said was racist.
The waitress, 34-year-old Marie Elena Colunga, said the note that went along with the $62 tab read "Go back to Mexico".
"16 years living here and this is the first time that somebody did this to me," said Colunga.
As a mother, she said it was tough explaining to her children who were also upset over the note.
"I may explain to them but they're very smart and they understand that there are mean people everywhere, racist people," she said.
Colunga said it wasn't only upsetting for her and her family, but for those she works with and others in her community.
"It only wasn't offensive to me but to my coworkers, the Hispanic people, and the Latino people," she said.
WVEC Now reached the man on the phone, who Colunga said wrote the note.
He was unavailable to speak on camera, but explained over the phone that he did, in fact, write it because he got the "worst service ever", including what he said were wrong orders, no refills, and staff that argued with him.
He also said he was frustrated because "no one spoke English". The breaking point for him was when he waited for half an hour to get his check, and he said eventually he had to track down an employee to close out.
Despite what is written on the receipt, the man said to WVEC Now on the phone, "I am NOT racist."
He added, "They're racist. They didn't want me there."
He said he felt that way because he's white. In his phone conversation with WVEC Now, he said he's not "anti-immigrant" but in America, we should speak English and if employees in the restaurant can't, customers should know beforehand.
He didn't think his note was racist, and initially said he didn't regret writing it. Later, he changed his tone and he said he "probably shouldn't have written it" and he "kind of regrets it" but it was "out of anger".
"It was very sad but I tried to be strong that day because it was a busy Sunday so you have to be strong. You don't want to cry. It's busy and you're working," said Colunga.
WVEC Now also spoke to her manager off camera and he felt the same way as Colunga, upset and disappointed at what happened.
Colunga said for a few days after, she didn't work and when she came back, was afraid it'd happen again. But, she said support from the restaurant has helped her overcome the situation.
"I feel bad because I didn't do anything to him even if he didn't like the service or the food, there's not a reason for him to do that to me or anybody," said Colunga.
WVEC Now is choosing not to name the restaurant because the manager has asked us not to out of fear for any retaliation for speaking out.