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Southside Social in Chattanooga

This story was updated Feb. 14 at 11:50 p.m.

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Screenshot of a list of rules posted by Southside Social.

The operators of Southside Social decided Tuesday to roll back a controversial new dress code after it was met last week with a social media firestorm and a pointed rejection by the city councilman who represents the district.

After the Facebook announcement of the dress code Thursday, many residents decried it as discriminatory, saying it unfairly targeted minority groups. The revamped policy specifically prohibited patrons from wearing hooded sweatshirts, shorts below the knees, plain white tee shirts, backward baseball caps, visors, skull caps and do-rags.

"Last week, we may have been overzealous in redefining our dress code. However, at the time, we felt that the atmosphere in our establishment had the possibility of becoming unsafe for our guests," wrote Rick Dillard, Southside Social's general manager, on Facebook.

"In moving forward, we will continue to enforce the original dress code that has been posted outside our door and on our fence since we opened. We very much appreciate the support of our patrons and only ask that you dress in a way that is comfortable and responsible.

"Again, we apologize for offending anyone — we only want to ensure a safe, fun and secure environment," Dillard finished.

When the original announcement was made Thursday, City Councilman Chris Anderson released a statement saying, "this community will not tolerate thinly-veiled attempts to exclude minorities from local businesses."

"Mr. Wise noted in the press that the move was intended to bolster safety at his establishment and to keep out so-called thugs, but one can hardly imagine a way that prohibiting baseball caps (backwards or otherwise), hoodies, or boots invites a safer environment," he wrote in a news release.

"Rather, policies like these alienate certain residents in our community. Thats [sic] shameful."

Anderson called on residents to avoid patronizing Southside Social until the ban was lifted, writing, "We have a moral obligation to make our voices heard with our wallets as well as our speech."

Dozens of Chattanoogans did ensure their voices were heard by flocking to the internet to blast the bar on social media.

The bar suffered a string of negative reviews on Yelp the next day, driving its monthly score average down to a paltry 1.6 stars overnight. The score is less than half of the 3.5-star average the bar maintained throughout most of 2016.

"It was a great place to hang out and have a good time, but the new dress code is very discriminatory and quite frankly ridiculous," a reviewer named Daniel wrote online. "Don't waste your time supporting this discriminating establishment."

The original post stated the business only wanted the "grown, sexy and mature crowd to party" at Southside Social.

"Our goal is to ensure every one of our guests feels welcome and safe. If you disagree with this policy or aren't willing to dress to impress, then there are other options around town for you," the bar's Facebook administrator wrote.

"Those not willing to play ball with our policies are certainly welcome and able to party elsewhere. We're choosing to keep it classy Chattanooga. If you agree, welcome aboard. If not, please feel free to [patronize] another establishment."

That post has since been deleted.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.

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