Ikea faces criticism from employees over Juneteenth menu that offered fried chicken and watermelon

Ikea sign seen outside its showroom in Vitrolles, France. Denis Thaust/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • An Atlanta-based Ikea faced complaints about its Juneteenth menu, CBS46 reported.
  • The menu included items like fried chicken, watermelon, and collard greens.
  • Employees said it was racially insensitive and management needed to be educated on Black culture.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An Ikea in Atlanta sparked criticism among employees over its Juneteenth menu that some labeled racially insensitive.

The branch emailed staffers on Friday about a Juneteenth menu that would be served at an internal celebration to “honor and persevere Black Americans,” CBS46 reported. The menu included fried chicken, watermelon, mac and cheese, collard greens, and other dishes, according to CBS46.

But some employees found the menu underscored by ignorance and said that management needed to do more to educate themselves on Black culture.

“You cannot say serving watermelon on Juneteenth is a soul food menu when you don’t even know the history, they used to feed slaves watermelon during the slave time,” an anonymous employee told CBS46.

“It caused a lot of people to be upset. People actually wanted to quit, people weren’t coming back to work,” the Ikea employee added.

An Ikea representative told Insider that around 20 employees called out from work over the menu, prompting an internal email response from the store manager on Juneteenth.

In a statement to Insider, Ikea apologized for the menu and said they “got it wrong.”

“In addition to offering Juneteenth as one of our paid holidays nationally, our IKEA Atlanta store has recognized Juneteenth with our co-workers for the past four years. To honor the day, a lunch menu was created with the best of intentions, including recommendations from black co-workers,” the statement read.

It continued: “We value our co-workers’ voices and changed the menu after receiving feedback that the foods that were selected are not reflective of the deeply meaningful traditional foods historically served as part of Juneteenth celebrations. We got it wrong and we sincerely apologize. We are committed to educating ourselves and putting a process in place that will allow us to thoughtfully honor Juneteenth in the future.”

Ikea also addressed accusations that no people of color or Black employees were involved in creating the menu.

“There were Black co-workers involved in the creation of the menu,” the company told Insider. “Out of respect for their privacy, we cannot go into more detail, and we take this as an important learning and shared responsibility.”

According to CBS46, the store manager told staffers that the revised menu included collard greens, cornbread, mashed potatoes, and meatloaf.