Whataburger has apologized on behalf of a Texas employee who refused to serve a plainclothes detective because he was openly carrying a weapon. The chain has since announced they plan to initiate additional training for employees on their open carry policies for law enforcement officials.
On May 31, an unnamed Friendswood Police Department detective went into Whataburger at 214 E Parkwood Dr. with “a gun at his side and a badge clearly visible next to it,” KTRK reports. The law enforcement official attempted to explain to the manager on duty that he was with the police, but the manager refused to complete his order.
Authorities say the detective proceeded to exit the fast food chain, about 20 miles southeast of Houston, before tensions escalated.
As of June 1, Whataburger representatives had contacted the detective and apologized, according to the outlet. The iconic Texas burger joint later offered Fox News the following statement:
“This was an unfortunate misunderstanding of our open carry policy, and we've talked to the detective to make this right. He was understanding, accepted our apology and said he plans to come back to Whataburger,” a spokesperson said. “Our company policy allows law enforcement with proper identification to open carry at our restaurants, and we'll be reinforcing this policy with employees through additional training.”
“We've also been in contact with the Friendswood Police Officers Association. We want to make it clear that this detective and all law enforcement are welcome in our restaurants and we're proud to serve them,” they added.
Although Whataburger decided to ban the open carrying of guns across its 673 Texas locations when the Lone Star state’s open carry law went into effect in 2016, the chain created an exception to the rule for law enforcement officials, Dallas News reports.
Notably, this is the third time in recent years that the San Antonio-headquartered chain has quickly taken action in responding to similar situations.
In October 2017, Whataburger fired a Denison employee who cursed at two officers and refused to serve them. In September 2015, the chain fired a Lewisville worker who wouldn’t serve two police officers.