‘Dining with Darius’ accused of helping owners with heartburn
ATLANTE – Online cooking personality Darius “Cooks” Williams may have violated several short-term rental rules as well as a city ordinance when he hosted a ticketed event last month in Atlanta.
It comes a month after a Vrbo owner in Texas called police to have Williams evicted when they realized what he was really doing in her home.
FOOD FIGHT: ATLANTA-BASED INFLUENCER POSTS PERSONAL INFO ON CRITICS
Williams, 40, charges $215 each for a seven-course meal he prepares and serves to customers in various cities across the country. The price is expected to rise to $289 next year.
He pushes events through his social media pages, some of which claim over a million followers.
But his Atlanta-based company DariusCooks has been the subject of numerous complaints from customers who say they didn’t get what they paid for.
When Williams ignored their complaints, some disgruntled customers posted their concerns on her social media sites. Williams responded by blocking critics or posting their private information online to alert her followers. Some would then bombard the original poster with offensive remarks.
Williams’ business has a Better Business Bureau F rating.
We tried to ask Darius Williams questions at this Vrbo house a few hours before one of his Dining with Darius events. He made no comment and closed the door.
From March 17-22, Williams hosted one of her Dining with Darius events at a house on Northside Drive in Collier Hills.
The house was booked through the short-term rental site Vrbo. The house rules for this address prohibit any “events” and limit the number of guests to eight.
The videos posted by the participants show much more than that. Williams often sells 30 tickets per event.
“Oh wow,” said the home’s property manager, Toby Jackson, when shown a photo from the event. “I come before the guests and after the guests.”
Was he expecting 30 guests in the house?
“No sir,” Jackson replied.
The owner works out of state and could not be reached for comment. Williams told the FOX 5 I-Team that he broke no rules but would not provide evidence that the owner knew what he planned to do with his property.
The house is now for sale.
Williams also regularly serves sangria to her paying guests. At one location, home videos show guests dunking their cups in a communal plastic bucket.
He also posted videos explaining that he makes his Sangria with rosé wine and cognac.
In Atlanta, a customer posted a video on the way home from the event showing her articulating her words with a graphic saying ‘Red Drank’ sangria is coming in now.”
Atlanta police say a ticketed event with alcohol should have a special use permit. None were obtained for this house in Collier Hills.
Williams declined to answer FOX 5 I-Team’s question about whether alcohol was served and why he hadn’t obtained the proper permit.
Another short term rental company Airbnb confirmed that Williams is “banned” from using their site.
This former Darius Cooks employee says he asked to use his Airbnb account to book his next event. The owner then sent him a bill for $10,000 for the damage.
The ban appears to date back to at least 2016. That’s when a former worker named Nadiyah (she asked us not to use her last name) said Williams approached her about using her Airbnb account to book one of her events.
“The first week I worked for him, he was like, ‘Wow, I’m having trouble getting into my Airbnb. I don’t know what’s going on,'” she recalled.
She would come to regret her decision to book the location with her own Airbnb account.
“Imagine my surprise when a week later I get an email saying, ‘Hey, you owe Airbnb $10,000 because you ransacked this person’s house,'” Nadiyah said.
She said owner Williams was liable and did not have to pay damages.
“If you’re a business owner who (smears) your reputation on Airbnb, you don’t have another driver’s license. You have to find another jerk to use their account who is in good standing to continue your business,” Nadiyah she said pointing to herself.
One of many Darius Cooks customers complaining about not getting promised refund.
In February, a Vrbo owner in Dallas, Texas called police to evict Williams when she said she realized what he was doing with her home.
She said Williams had “blown the electrical system by hosting a commercial cooking dinner” without her permission.
Instead, Williams made sure to go live on Instagram to accuse the landlord of being the real bad guy.
He canceled the rest of the Dallas events, but some of his customers reached out online when they didn’t receive promised refunds:
“No response from you and no refund for the two tickets I purchased. I’m missing $430 and a plane ticket.”
“How long will it take to get my refund from the Dallas event?”
“He blocked me immediately without responding.”
When a Dallas, TX Vrbo landlord ordered Williams out of her house, he posted her cell phone number and encouraged her followers to contact her. He would later brag that “you turned that phone on!”
Most legitimate businesses will respond quickly to customers who complain that they didn’t get the product or service they paid for.
But Darius Williams uses a tactic no legitimate company would even dare to consider.
This is called doxing, maliciously publishing someone’s private information. When Danielle Holland anonymously criticized Williams for the way he treated his clients, he responded by tweeting pictures of his children.
“I saw the caption he put: tell Danielle Holland we said hello,” she said. The Hollands filed a complaint with the police. Photos of her children remain on Williams’ Twitter feed.
Williams also released the cell phone number of the Dallas homeowner who called the police to force him out.
He urged his followers to call or text him.
Williams then posted another video bragging that the response was so great that police asked him to remove the phone number from his page.
“Baby…when I tell you, you turned on that phone!” he laughed while lying in bed praising the response from his adoring fans.