This week, the internet has been focusing its rage on a DFW Chili's where a U.S. army veteran had his free Veteran's Day meal taken away after a man in a Donald Trump T-shirt questioned his military service.
As The Dallas Morning News reports, 47-year-old Ernest Walker brought his service dog to the Cedar Hill Chili's on Veterans Day, hoping to take advantage of the franchise's offer to serve a free meal to all U.S. military veterans and active-duty personnel. As the Morning News reports, things went south after Walker was approached by a man wearing a Donald Trump T-shirt:
As Walker tells it, an elderly white man wearing a Donald Trump shirt approached him and said that he was in Germany and that blacks weren't allowed to serve there. Walker, who is black, says he was wearing his old Army uniform.
The man walked to the back of the restaurant, Walker says, and a waitress came to pack his leftovers. Then a manager showed up.
In a widely shared Facebook post, Walker wrote that the manager claimed another guest said Walker was not "a real soldier" because he was wearing his hat indoors. Walker said he provided a military ID at the manager's request, along with his discharge papers.
"The guest also said your dog is not a service dog," Walker says the manager told him.
In a video Walker later posted to his Facebook page, the Chili's manager took away his take-out bag containing his free meal.
Since the incident, Chili's has been bombarded by angry internet comments, enraged that a manager would take such action despite the fact that Walker had proof of his military service. Brinker International, the company that owns Chili's, released a statement apologizing and claiming the franchise has "removed" the manager who took Walker's meal away.
Since we opened our doors, we’ve had one passion – to make people feel special. At Chili’s, it’s more than just about the food; it’s more than just about a meal. Every day we strive to create a great experience for you, your families and your friends. There are more than 100,000 of us working together to take care of our Guests, like no place else.
However, on Nov. 11, one of our restaurants failed to live up to our expectations and in doing so, we let down a valued Guest. Last week, Mr. Walker, a veteran, came into our restaurant to participate in our Chili’s program honoring veterans and active military with a free meal. Unfortunately, Mr. Walker was not treated in a manner our veterans deserve. On a day where we served more than 200,000 free meals as a small gesture of our appreciation for our veterans and active military for their service, we fell short.
Today, we personally apologized to Mr. Walker for the unfortunate experience in our restaurant on Veterans Day and thanked him for his service to our country. We also thanked him for taking the time to speak with us and he appreciated our apology. We took swift action and immediately removed our manager from the restaurant. We are now in the process of working with Mr. Walker on a resolution that promotes trust and healing.
We are committed to making this right because this is not representative of what Chili’s stands for, where every day, in every restaurant, we connect, serve and give to create the best life.
On behalf of our Team Members, I want to thank you for listening, acknowledging our apology and we look forward to making you feel special in our restaurants.
President of Chili’s® Grill & Bar