The staff at an Olive Garden in Kansas City asked a police officer to leave during his own birthday lunch on Sunday. According to KMBC, officer Michael Holsworth was waiting for his family to arrive at the restaurant, dressed in full uniform and with his gun because he was on duty. While he was sitting inside of the Olive Garden, a staff member allegedly asked him to leave, telling the officer they do "not allow guns inside the restaurant."
Holsworth notes in a Facebook post that he thought the employee was joking at first and asked her, "Are you serious?" The employee supposedly said "yes," and then asked him to "please leave." The officer tells KMBC that he has never been asked to leave a restaurant before and says he wrote about the situation on Facebook because he did not "want other officers to be subjected to the same embarrassing situation."
The Kansas City Star writes that the president of Olive Garden personally called Holsworth to apologize for the incident. A spokesperson for the chain says that the employee "clearly made a mistake" and that her behavior is "unacceptable." The spokesperson adds: "Olive Garden welcomes members of law enforcement all the time in the restaurants. We love serving them. They serve our community. The least we can do is provide them a great meal." There is no word on whether or not the employee has been fired. Eater has reached out to the Olive Garden location and to the chain's corporate offices for comment. Meanwhile, an Olive Garden rep responded on Facebook: "We are very sorry for the mistreatment of this officer and anyone that was offended or concerned because of this situation. We recognize this was unacceptable and we're taking steps to ensure something like this doesn't happen again."
It's hard to tell if this particular incident was a result of a misunderstanding about a restaurant's open carry policy or had something to do with the fear of everyday citizens in the face of an increase in violent gun crime in recent years. In this case, it's unlikely that the Olive Garden server in question intended to disrespect the officer.
Law enforcement personnel appear to be having a hard time at restaurants across the country due to growing tensions about gun rights. Last week, three parole officers were asked to leave a T.G.I. Friday's in Tennessee because they were carrying their service weapons. The officers — who were on duty — were told that they were "not allowed to have guns in the restaurant." Just a few weeks before, a Waffle House in Kentucky refused to serve a National Guardsman unless he left his gun in the car. The franchise owner had reason to refuse service in this case: He says that the solider had been involved in at least one altercation at the restaurant before.
Update 10/12; 9:23 p.m.: This post has been updated to include Olive Garden's response to the incident on Facebook.
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