COLUMBIA -- The NAACP on Friday sued a Myrtle Beach restaurant, claiming three black patrons were refused service during a biker rally last year in violation of their civil rights.

But the owner of the Pan American Pancake & Omelet House said that his employees do not discriminate against anyone based on the color of their skin. "I highly doubt it," said Constantine Leftis, 52, who immigrated to the U.S. from Greece in 1978 and has run the restaurant for 25 years. "... We've never had an issue."

At around 6 a.m. May 30, 2010, during the annual Atlantic Beach Bikefest weekend that caters to black bikers, restaurant employees told the plaintiffs that the restaurant was closed, even as they continued to serve white patrons, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said in the lawsuit.

In addition to at least $5,000 each for violation of South Carolina's public accommodations law, the court also should award each man unspecified punitive and compensatory damages for emotional harm and humiliation, attorneys wrote.

Organizers expect as many as 300,000 people for Atlantic Beach Bikefest, which is under way this weekend. The NAACP has said Myrtle Beach enforces laws against black bikers more strictly than during the predominantly white Harley-Davidson rally. It also has said it is again organizing Operation Bike Week Justice to monitor how police handle the rally in the predominantly black beach community on the Grand Strand.

Aside from having to call the police on rowdy customers several years ago, Leftis said he has never had a problem with patrons during either the Bikefest or the Harley-Davidson rally.

No hearings have been scheduled in the case.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Get the best of The Post and Courier, handpicked and delivered to your inbox every morning.