Arby's fires Florida manager after police officer joke goes 'awry'

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 04, 2015 3:51 PM

By David Adams

MIAMI (Reuters) - Arby's sandwich chain fired a South Florida restaurant manager and suspended a clerk after an unfortunate police joke led to a complaint against staff at a drive-thru.

The mix-up led to a police woman accusing the store of denying her service simply because she was a cop.

Pembroke Pines police officer Jennifer Martin, accused the clerk of refusing to accept her credit card when she ordered a meal on Tuesday at the restaurant a few miles northwest of Miami. She said the manager told her; "He doesn’t want to serve you because you are a police officer."

Martin was eventually served, but decided to return her food and was given a refund.

The next day Pembroke Pines police chief Dan Giustino issued a press release saying he had called Arby's to demand an apology.

The clerk, Kenneth Davenport, told local media that the delay in serving Martin was a mix-up as he was busy handling several customers, and that the manager's comment was meant as a joke.

Arby's appeared to accept that version in a statement on Thursday saying "we believe this was based on a misunderstanding

and ill-considered joke gone awry."

The company, which goes by the motto "Inspiring smiles through delicious experiences," said Davenport was put on temporary paid leave.

Arby's Chief Executive Officer Paul Brown wrote a public letter to all Miami area police departments on Wednesday apologizing for the incident saying it did not represent "Arby's values."

The chain invited all officers in the Miami area to receive a free combo meal of their choice on Friday.

(Reporting by David Adams; Editing by Marguerita Choy)