A manager from a Chili’s restaurant in Cedar Hill, Texas, has been placed on administrative leave after he refused to give a U.S. Army veteran a free meal on Veterans Day, citing that he did not believe the man was a real soldier.
Ernest Walker, 47, who was in uniform and accompanied by his service dog, had finished his meal and boxed up the leftovers, but when it came time to pay the tab, Walker said he was completely humiliated when the manager came to his table.
“And he said, ‘Sir, we have guests that say that you are not a military veteran.’ I said, ‘excuse me?’” Walker recalled.
Walker said he had the proper paperwork proving his military service, but it didn’t matter. In addition, the manager questioned whether Walker’s dog was really a service dog. In the end, Walker was denied the free meal and the manager, who Walker described as “overzealous,” snatched his box of leftovers off of the table.
“I looked around and I’m embarrassed at this point,” Walker said. “People are looking. I’m a soldier. I’m a person and everybody’s looking like I stole food.”
Walker said he served from 1987 to 1991 and was wearing his uniform without his name or rank because he did not want to be mistaken for an active-duty soldier.
“I wear this one day a year,” said Walker. “I’m not some kook that’s reliving the past.”
Chili’s apologized to Walker for the mishap and released a statement which said, in part, “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.”
[ NBC ]