Ohio Cracker Barrel apologizes for denying armed officers service

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:52 PM EDT
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Brooklyn, Ohio (WOIO) - A Northeast Ohio Cracker Barrel is apologizing to some law enforcement officers, saying they plan to make things right after the uniformed officers were refused service for wearing their guns on their hips.

U.S. Marshals from Youngstown traveled to work with their partners in Cleveland for the day. After several hours in the field, the group wearing clearly marked law enforcement clothing says they stopped to get a bite to eat at the Tiedeman Road Cracker Barrel in Brooklyn.

But, to their surprise, a manager refused to seat the officers or serve them as long as they had their guns inside the restaurant.

One officer took to social media, writing: “Working with the Task Force Team we went into this Cracker Barrel in uniform and were denied service because we were armed.” He says the manager walked them to the door. Task force members who also say their badges were visible say they then told the manager what the Ohio Revised Code has had on the books since March 28, 2019. What’s known as House Bill 228 became law, and Section 2923.1214 of the ORC, states that it “prohibits establishments from stopping law enforcement officers/investigators from carrying weapons in establishments that serve the public regardless of whether the officer is on duty.”

So, 19 News went to the Cracker Barrel in Brooklyn to find out their side of the story, and we were told the manager who was on duty Wednesday morning when the incident happened, was not there at the moment, and that we needed to contact Cracker Barrel’s corporate headquarters in Tennessee.

This is the same Cracker Barrel that tragically experience gun violence in 2012 when a domestic dispute involving customers led to a man shooting and killing his wife in the gift shop of the restaurant and then killing his two daughters who were hiding in the bathroom. The suspect was shot and killed as he came face to face with responding officers. So, we did wonder if this painful history had something to do with any policy at the restaurant?

After reaching out to corporate headquarters, Cracker Barrel issued a statement, saying, “This was an isolated incident that conflicted with Cracker Barrel’s longstanding policies and procedures. We have taken the appropriate steps to retrain store management and are making things right with these guests. Each guest with whom we’ve been able to speak to has been gracious and understanding. We look forward to having them back to dine with us soon.”

The law enforcement officers confirm that the restaurant did issue a formal apology, and those officers graciously said, “Apologies accepted. Just like in law enforcement one bad apple don’t spoil the bunch. Thanks everyone for the support.”

Pete Elliott the U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio said, what happened may not have been solely directed at law enforcement, but possibly someone who didn’t understand the law.

The officer who made the original social media post says this is the first time this has ever happened at a Cracker Barrel and that the other local restaurant locations have always been fantastic.