McLaughlin said she did not have all pertinent information when she apologized to customer and Vandalia resident Whitney Hague and her family.
Hague had claimed in Facebook post that a Bunkers manager confronted her family after her 1-year-old daughter's grandfather prepared to feed the toddler Gerber Mac and cheese when they visited the restaurant on July 28.
Questioned about her Facebook post about the incident, Hague told this news organization that four members of her family left the eatery located at 893 E. National Road in Vandalia embarrassed.
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Facebook posts related to the Gerber Mac and cheese incident at Bunkers Sports Bar and Grill. Vandalia resident Whitney Hague's original post is seen on the left. A portion of Bunkers response to the incident is top right. The bottom right post was added after Bunkers' apologized. Hague's original post and the one from Bunkers were removed. The lower post has also seemingly been removed.
Credit: Screen grabs
Credit: Screen grabs
“She said, ‘Sir, If you open that, I am going to ask you to leave,” Hague told this news organization.
Bunkers apologized to Hague on Facebook, and McLaughlin told us she did the same by phone. She explained that the restaurant’s no outside food policy does not apply to babies and other special circumstances.
Both Hague and the restaurant have removed Facebook posts about the incident.
McLaughlin now says she should not have issued the apology because the information presented to her by the customer did not match the facts as described by her staff, and which were later seen on a security video recording.
In their statement vetted by attorney Heather Duwel-Mehl, McLaughlin and her mother and business partner call Hague’s since-deleted Facebook post misleading, and that the baby food was brought into the restaurant in a KFC container.
"Gerber baby food was never once visible. The only thing visible were KFC containers the family had in their hand upon walking in the restaurant. The still photo from the restaurant's security cameras clearly show takeout containers, not Gerber food containers as previously portrayed," the statement said.
Hague did not return a phone call seeking comment.
McLaughlin and Kreusch said families are welcomed in their restaurant.
“We want our customers to know we openly support a family environment. We also want to support our staff and thank them for trying to handle such a chaotic situation with respect and professionalism,” the statement says.
The owners say they learned a valuable lesson about the power of social media.
“Never allow social media pressure to compromise your values,” the statement says.
“With so many on social media and public opinions being so highly discussed, Bunkers wants to send an important message. Never post to social media directly following an emotional situation. Please think before you post. Words do matter. Cyber bullying and slander (are) never acceptable.”
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Complete statement from Bunkers
Recently, an event has hit local and national news as well as social media regarding an incident with Bunkers Sports Bar & Grill and a family. The incident occurred when the family brought food into the local restaurant packaged in KFC containers. Upon notification of the restaurant's no outside food policy, the family abruptly left the restaurant and turned to social media by writing a misleading post. After the post and news articles, numerous reports occurred on social media portraying the business as anti-baby and anti-family friendly and criticized the way the situation was handled.
Counsel for Bunkers Sports Bar & Grill Attorney Heather Duwel-Mehl with the firm Duwel Law attempted to help the parties come together and jointly address the situation in a positive manner. In the end, it wasn't possible. Bunkers Sports Bar & Grill at no time ever denied a patron service nor kicked them out of their establishment due to bringing in baby food, puffs or formula. Gerber baby food was never once visible. The only thing visible were KFC containers the family had in their hand upon walking in the restaurant. The still photo from the restaurant's security cameras clearly show takeout containers, not Gerber food containers as previously portrayed.
The owners of Bunkers Sports Bar and Grill, Leann Kreusch McLaughlin and Mary Lou Kreusch state they, just like many other restaurants, have a no outside food or drink policy. This is a common sense policy which most restaurants implement. Bunkers Sports Bar & Grill's policy does not apply to baby food, baby bottles, baby puffs or food for individuals with food allergies. Had dialog taken place or the baby food been in its original packaging, this situation would have been avoided.
Our business has received negative statements and anti-baby commentary due to a misrepresentation of a situation on a Facebook post. As owners, we feel strongly that rebutting such information is important. We want our customers to know we openly support a family environment. We also want to support our staff and thank them for trying to handle such a chaotic situation with respect and professionalism.
We learned an extremely valuable lesson throughout this entire process. Never allow social media pressure to compromise your values. Three hours after the initial post on social media, Bunkers apologized to (the mother) and her family for the way she was treated before having all the facts. In reviewing all the information, we should have handled the situation differently. We wouldn't have apologized for something which did not take place. My staff handled the situation correctly, appropriately and respectfully and for that, I apologize to them for the names they were called on social media and the subsequent social media bullying and backlash which ensued.
With so many on social media and public opinions being so highly discussed, Bunkers wants to send an important message. Never post to social media directly following an emotional situation. Please think before you post. Words do matter. Cyber bullying and slander is never acceptable."