In Katy, Texas, on Sunday, 15-September 2013, Eli Gau and Lilian Maliti went to dinner at their local Applebee's restaurant for dinner with their two boys, Ryan, 3 and Ethan, 1. According to Eli, his children are a handful at times but no more than any other toddler. He said everything seem okay until Ryan wandered away from the table.
"I went to grab him and as I was walking back to the table, the manager was walking to me. The manager told me that the children were making too much noise. "
-- Eli Gau
Meanwhile, the manager had called the police and asked the family to leave as they were no longer welcome. The family was confronted by the Harris County Sheriff's Department who escorted then to the parking lot. A deputy gave them a notice warning for criminal trespassing. Having served many trespass warnings to offenders in my past, it often means that the person served is banned from the property and if they return without permission then they can be subject to charges of trespassing which can be a felony is some jurisdictions especially with government facilities. I do not believe that the family was treated fairly. At the very least, the manager should have approached the family and stated that there had been X amount of complains and that they need to calm their children down or else they would be asked to leave. After all, this is a family restaurant so I cannot imagine that these two kids were the first kids to have ever acted a bit wild at any Applebee's restaurants. I have to wonder if race was an issue and they were targeted by their skin color. Unless, they caused property damage, which it did not appear to be the case, then booting them was just ridiculous and the deputy's actions were beyond ridiculous!
“I feel disrespected, this has never happened in my life."
-- Lillian Maliti
"I feel heartbroken. I feel very sad."
-- Eli Gau
Days later, an Applebee’s spokesperson profusely apologized for what happened and said the management team had mishandled the situation. The restaurant also invited the family to come back and offered them free passes for dinner. But Gau said his family would be taking their business somewhere else.
At the very least, the family should sue for harassment and discrimination, the possibility of a hate crime, and for public embarrassment in being escorted by police as if they were some type of criminals.
Statement from Applebee’s
"Our franchise owner-operator has apologized to the Guest and invited the party back into their restaurant to demonstrate the standard of service each of our Guests deserve to receive during every visit. As a brand, our focus is and must always be providing the best possible experience for all of our Guests at all times. When a disruption in our restaurants affects any of our Guests, it is the manager's responsibility to step in to resolve the situation. It is exceedingly rare that a situation requires the assistance of law enforcement, and our franchisee is using this instance as a teaching moment to better manage future disruptions in their restaurants."