Chili’s has been honoring veterans on Veterans Day with free meals in recent years. They have given some 200,000 on average on that day in free meals since they launched the program according to Brinker International.
However, the years-long practice has never had an instance like what a Cedar Hill’s veteran had to experience on November 11th.
Chili’s Removes The Manager in Question After he takes a Meal away from a Veteran
A 47-year-old veteran, Ernest Walker had chosen Chili’s for his Veterans Day meal. He and his service dog, Barack, sat at a table and Ernest ordered a burger.
Walker says in his Facebook post:
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 rudely 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 contact
Walker is understandably upset during the recording after the manager had alleged that the service animal was not, in fact, a service animal or that Walker himself was not a veteran.
Below is an excerpt of Chili’s president Kelli Valade prepared statement:
“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.”
Walker places the blame for the encounter at the feet of the obviously emboldened racism expressed by the Trump supporter.
“I do believe that the election has changed the hearts and changed the motives of people so much so that he believed in his heart and mind after talking to the Trump supporter that I was stealing food,” Walker said.