Chili’s Responds To Viral Video Of Customers Being Booted From Abbeville Location
Video of a group of customers being asked to leave the property of the Abbeville Chili's has gone viral.
Jhordi Henderson and his friends were excited to step out for dinner this past Saturday night (June 23). One friend had flown in from Honduras, so the group of twelve got together to catch up over a meal at the Abbeville location of the popular Tex-Mex-style franchise restaurant.
While family and friends were looking forward to having a good time catching up, Henderson claims the service was terrible from the start.
As soon as our orders were being taken...she told us she had a long day so she wasn’t in a good mood
Henderson says the experience only went downhill from there as some of the group didn't get the appetizers they ordered—and those who did get their order received cold food. At that point, he thought about leaving but didn't want to ruin the night for their friend. He also understood it was the server's first night—so to avoid creating an issue for her, he chose not to complain about the food.
Eventually, management did get involved once a member of the group was denied a go-cup for their son's lemonade. Henderson claims the server refused the cup because her manager said: "there was alcohol at the table." This rubbed Henderson and his friends the wrong way and at that point, a manager came over to their table.
When she got there she said she was just following the standard. We assured her that we had no alcohol at the table but the only way we could get a to-go cup was if they poured his drink into the cup
At that point, two members of the group who were also managers in the restaurant & beverage industry questioned the Chili's manager on the temperature of the cold food that they received earlier but got no response.
According to Henderson, the group only sat for approximately 30 minutes before their tickets were placed on the table while they were still eating. After that happened, he felt like it was obvious the waitress didn't want to be there and they were being rushed out of the restaurant, so they decided to pay their tab and call it a night.
As Henderson and his friends took the conversation outside of the restaurant before leaving, two police officers showed up and told them they had to leave the property. Being that there were two other groups of people who had also been conversating in the parking lot Henderson and his friends were shocked, asking police why they were being singled out.
The following exchange was captured on video. The clip was posted to Facebook by Laura Briggs and has now gone viral with over 200,000 views and over 4,000 shares at the time of this post.
Henderson confirms that he knew the police officer in the video, and identified him as Trent Guidry. He believes that Guidry was put in a bad situation.
He’s someone I’ve been knowing for years. We actually graduated together. He’s someone close to me and I respect him for doing his job and for being who he is.
A Facebook post from Henderson immediately after the incident details frustration with a situation that he feels was racially motivated.
We reached out to Chili's for comment and received the following statement from Cheli Breaux, Chili's Central Louisiana Director of Operations:
When walking into our restaurants each day, we believe our ChiliHeads have one job and that’s to make every Guest feel special while dining with us. We know and regret that the experience for some of our Chili’s Abbeville Guests on Saturday, June 23 did not reflect this.
Our focus now is to talk with our Guests to better understand how they were treated at Chili’s Abbeville and learn how we can better live out our promise to ensure every Guest feels welcome in our restaurants. We have reached out to the Abbeville Guests for whom we have contact information and offered to sit down and discuss their experiences. While they have declined at this time, our doors are always open.
Our restaurants can be found in communities big and small across the country, and our Team Members and Guests come from all backgrounds. We are proud to be a meeting place in the communities where we live and serve and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. Cultural intelligence and unconscious bias coaching sessions are part of our ongoing training for all ChiliHeads because we want to ensure every Guest feels special, respected and valued in our restaurants.
Henderson confirms that Breaux reached out and claims he was told the police were called at the request of another customer.
She told me even though we did nothing wrong, a lady eating inside said she didn’t want us there and asked Chili's to call the cops to have us removed. Now when she said that I told her 'don’t you think that is wrong to do—especially after we just spent money, and come here at least twice a week?' She agreed that it was wrong but said their policy states that if any guest wants someone removed they have to remove them.
According to Henderson, when asked why they weren't at least notified or asked to leave by management before calling the cops, Breaux's response was "I don't know." He says that she "apologized and offered to send coupons"—a gesture that he considered a slap in the face.
You think a coupon can fix the embarrassment you placed on not only me but my family? And all because someone inside wanted us gone. Instead of correcting the issue or asking us to leave they pushed the police to do something they didn’t have to do.
When asked why he declined the offer to sit down and discuss his experience with Chili's Henderson told me that he felt that it "wasn't genuine" and was a "phony response to a major screw up." He felt like he was in a situation similar to the viral video of the two black men who were arrested and escorted out of a Philadelphia Starbucks.
We did nothing wrong, and we were forced to leave. The business was still open. And we were also banned from entering. Just because I’m a black male in Abbeville, LA it doesn’t mean I’m a criminal or a thug or out to hurt anyone. I have never even had detention. Never owned or shot a gun. Never did any drug or touched anything like it. Let’s say the police were expecting us to be threats to their lives and they pulled guns?
Henderson says he is doubtful he will ever return to Chili's, but despite his frustration, he is grateful for local law enforcement and believes the bad situation was "handled as best as it possibly could have been" due to their approach.
Glad we have the type of officers that we have in Abbeville.
Do you believe Henderson and his group of friends and family were treated unfairly? Could Chili's have gone about things a different way? Comment with your thoughts and let us know how you feel about the situation.