On Veteran’s Day, a number of restaurants across the country offer a free meal as a “thank you” to members of the Armed Forces. At a DFW Chili’s, though, one retired U.S. Army vet didn’t get exactly what he expected.
NBC DFW reports that Ernest Walker went to a Chili’s in Cedar Hill to redeem his free Veteran’s Day lunch, only to have it (literally) snatched away by a manager as he tried to leave the restaurant. The interaction has since gone viral, and has been picked up by news outlets in both the U.S. and U.K.
After dining in the restaurant with his service dog Barack, Walker says that a patron wearing an “American flag shirt and Trump sticker” told the manager that he wasn’t a real veteran. The manager confronted Walker, and took away the leftovers he planned to take to go. Walker, who was carrying his discharge papers and a military ID, says that the manager did not believe him.
Walker posted a video of the exchange, which also involves the manager “questioning” the credentials of Barack the service dog and a shot of the manager snatching the food out of his hands. It has since racked up more than 237,000 views on Facebook
Check it out below:
I was approached by an old white guy, maybe in his 70s, with a Trump Shirt, at Chili's on Veteran's Day yesterday. He asked if I was in the 24th unit, and I said "no the 25th". TRICK QUESTION. He said he was in Germany, and that they did not let Blacks serve over there. He left to the back, and came back and rubbed my dog Barack, who is a service dog. I was seated and eating my food. The waitress packed the rest of my food in a to go box because I had to go pick up my wife. I got my food and tipped the waitress. Then the Manager, MR. Wesley Patrick, comes from the same area in the back, walked up, and rudly informs me that a guest said that I was not a real soldier because I had my hat on indoors. Other guests heard him. He asked for my military ID, I was calm, and provided it to him. I also provided him with my DD214 which is my discharge paperwork. At that point he should have just said "I am sorry Sir, thank you for your service' Instead he followed up with "the guest also said your dog is not a service dog." Barack had his Red Service Vest on, and his Certified Service Tags. I was sitting for 35 minutes prior with Barack beforehand. At this point I was grossly offended embarrassed dehumanized and started Recording...Mr. Wesley snatched my food away, made body contactPosted by Ernest Blackbatman on Saturday, November 12, 2016
For its part, Chili’s issued an apology to Walker via Facebook:
"We are aware of the situation that occurred at our Chili's Cedar Hill restaurant on November 11th. Our goal is to make every guest feel special and unfortunately we fell short on a day where we serve more than 180,000 free meals as a small token to honor our Veterans and active military for their service, hence these actions do not reflect the beliefs of our brand. We are taking this very seriously and the leaders in our company are actively involved with the goal of making it right. Since the incident occurred, we have extended an apology and we are reaching out to the guest."
Walker has retained counsel, so this saga may result in a whole lot more than the negative Facebook comments and boycott threats that have flooded Chili’s page in the past 48 hours.