A T.G.I. Friday's in Tennessee is facing backlash over its gun policy: According to WSMV, three parole officers were asked to leave a location of the endless mozzarella stick-slinging chain in Franklin earlier this week because they were armed. The manager allegedly told the officers — who the Tennessee Department of Corrections confirmed were in uniform, carrying state-issued law enforcement identification — they were "not allowed to have guns in the restaurant."
One of the parole officers involved in the situation wrote a post about the incident on a law enforcement community Facebook page, notes Brentwood Home Page. The officer said that he and his co-workers were "thrown out... because law enforcement is not welcome, adding, "It's so nice to be treated like crap when [I am] just trying to take my lunch hour." Johnny Crumby, the president of the Tennessee Fraternal Order of Police, tells WSMV: "The officers are out there to protect the public... If somebody comes in while someone is on their lunch break, they are not off-duty. They are still an officer."
The restaurant's Facebook page was soon inundated with negative one-star reviews, many of which are calling for a boycott of the chain and the firing of the manager. Many also posted screenshots of what appears to be the now-deleted response to angry messages on the Facebook page by the manager. The message noted that "emulating a police or security guard is easily possible" and "with all the public shootings, we just want to do our best to keep all the guest[s] safe."
T.G.I. Friday's released a statement Tuesday evening saying the manager misunderstood the company's gun policy. The chain bans customers from carrying guns, but law enforcement officers are able to eat while armed. The manager has now been "coached" on the policy. T.G.I. Friday's adds, "We have reached out to the officers to personally apologize for the unfortunate misunderstanding, and we've invited them back in to join us for a free lunch." Eater has reached out to the Franklin restaurant for comment.
These parole officers aren't the only ones who have been given a hard time when carrying their guns into chain restaurants. Late last month, a Waffle House in Kentucky refused to serve an armed National Guardsman unless he left his gun in the car. While the restaurant received a firestorm of backlash online, the franchise owner says that the soldier had been involved in an altercation at the restaurant before. Waffle House does have a company-wide policy banning guns, with the only exception being law enforcement officers. However, the chain's corporate offices says that franchise owners can enforce "slightly different rules."