An owner of a Louisiana Burger King has issued an apology after some of the store's employees reportedly refused service to two police officers.
What's a brief history on this?
A Louisiana Burger King franchise reportedly refused service to police officers during a May incident, according to the Bayou Journal and Blue Lives Matter.
When confronted over the allegations, the franchise owner allegedly demanded an apology — from the cops.
Two Assumption Parish deputies had just finished SWAT training in Zachary, Louisiana, and stopped at a nearby Burger King in St. Francisville for a bite to eat.
Lonny Cavalier, public information director for the Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office, told Blue Lives Matter that the two officers — who were riding in a patrol vehicle — pulled into the drive-thru lane to place an order.
Cavalier told Blue Lives Matter, “[The officers] sat [at the drive-thru kiosk] for an extended period of time before someone finally let them order.”
Cavalier said that when one of the officers requested a chicken sandwich, an unidentified female inside cut him off and sarcastically said, “We’re out of chicken.”
The officer proceeded in an attempt to order a Whopper, and this time he was reportedly cut off by an unidentified male, who said, “We’re out of burgers, too.”
Apparently realizing that something was up, the officers asked those on the drive-thru intercom if the items were actually out of stock, or if they just did not serve police officers at this particular location.
“The only response was laughter,” Cavalier told Blue Lives Matter.
The officers reportedly moved onto the payment window after being told that they were out of both chicken sandwiches and burgers. According to the outlet, the two officers parked the vehicle, and one of them exited the car, and then stuck his head inside the take-out window to speak with someone.
“[The officer] could hear [employees] inside laughing, but no one would come to the window,” Cavalier said.
The officers eventually left the restaurant — empty-handed — and reported the alleged incident to their supervisor. Cavalier told the outlet that the two officers were “embarrassed and humiliated.”
“This is new for us,” he added. “We’ve not had that kind of relationship with any vendors, ever.”
Cavalier told Blue Lives Matter that he contacted the Burger King's corporate office several times, but received no resolution.
Instead, he took his concerns to the editor of the Bayou Journal in a letter.
“What is troubling is that these same Burger King employees, in the event a robbery was occurring at the time, would have expected these two deputies to take a bullet for them, and those deputies would have,” Cavalier wrote in the letter.
“Now we’ll wait and see how Burger King and Corporate Office responds,” Cavalier’s letter added.
The St. Francisville Burger King owner reportedly reached out to Cavalier about a week after the newspaper published Cavalier's letter — and he was not happy.
“[The franchise owner] was very angry,” Cavalier told Blue Lives Matter. “Very upset. He said, ‘My employees never refused to serve any police officers.'”
Cavalier said the unnamed store owner claimed that the officers’ story was an “outright lie” and that the employees simply had just refused service to “people who just happened to be police.”
“All we were looking for was a fair shake,” Cavalier said, noting that the department didn’t even ask for the employees in question to be fired. “Not an excuse – just an explanation.”
According to Cavalier, the store manager had already fired the employees in question.
The store manager reportedly told Cavalier that surveillance footage of the alleged incident existed, but he refused to turn it over to the department.
Cavalier told Blue Lives Matter that the store owner reportedly attempted to contact the Parish’s sheriff “multiple times” after the allegations came to light, but noted that the sheriff had no messages or missed calls from the Burger King owner.
Instead of apologizing, Cavalier said that the store owner demanded an apology from the police department as well as a retraction on the story.
“I told him, ‘Don’t wait, because there will be no retraction,'” Cavalier said.
Cavalier explained that the store owner would be in contact to further discuss the issue but noted that he has yet to hear back from the store owner at all.
“If the employees were actually terminated, that’s fine, but [Burger King] needs to make amends to their own community,” Cavalier said. “It’s a very nice town and we don’t blame the town – we blame Burger King as a whole.”
“[Burger King owes] the department and their own citizens an apology,” Cavalier said.
The story spread like wildfire on social media, with many outraged users calling for a boycott of the restaurant.
What's he saying now?
Joe Clements, a man who identified himself as the franchise's owner, shared an update to a local Louisiana news group page.
In his posting, Clements explained that it wasn't just police officers who were not served — the incident reportedly "involved other [g]uests] not being served."
Clements also noted that the individuals involved in refusing service to patrons were let go from the company.
A portion of Clements' post on Facebook read:
I saw the post on your Facebook page regarding the incident involving the two Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Deputies at the Burger King in St. Francisville. I’ve also seen it on other sites. As the owner of that restaurant, I would like to offer the following statement about that incident.
I am aware of the incident at the Burger King in St. Francisville involving two Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Deputies not being served. Unfortunately, it also involved other Guests not being served. The actions of the team members involved do not reflect the values and beliefs of our organization, nor do they reflect the values and beliefs of the Burger King Brand. I have investigated the incident and have determined that certain team members refused service to multiple Guests in our drive thru, including the two Deputies, on that day. As a result, these individuals no longer work for our organization. We are very grateful to our law enforcement officers for what they do and for the sacrifices that they make on our behalf. They put themselves in harmful situations on a daily basis to protect all of us, and we owe them a great deal for that.
I have met with Sheriff Falcon of Assumption Parish and expressed my sincere apology for the incident, and I have asked that he extend my apology to the two Deputies. I also extend my apology to any Guests that were inconvenienced as a result of the performance of these employees. Our goal is to provide friendly customer service to all of our customers.
St. Francisville is an outstanding community made up of outstanding people! Our team members from the area are good, hard working people. Unfortunately, from time to time, we end up with a bad hire. But we will continue to work diligently every day to keep that from happening.
You can read the post in its entirety here.