Georgia mom forced to leave Panera over disabled daughter’s noisy orthopedic shoes

By Travis Gettys
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 8:13 EDT
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Panera kicks out girl
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A Georgia woman said corporate officials apologized to her after an assistant manager asked her to leave a Panera Bread restaurant when another customer complained about her daughter’s squeaky orthopedic shoes.

“We weren’t welcome with the shoes,” said Catherine Duke. “It was very blatant.”

Her 4-year-old daughter, Emma, has a developmental disorder and is unable to walk correctly, so a doctor prescribed the special shoes.

Duke said she told the restaurant’s assistant manager that, but she repeated her request for the family to leave Jan. 4 because they were “bothering someone.”

“It was very hurtful, and I left the store crying, not a very good thing for a mom to feel like her child is being discriminated against,” Duke said.

The Savannah woman said she was contacted over the weekend by officials from Panera, who apologized in person and offered to hold a fundraiser to help pay Emma’s medical bills.

“They’re very for children,” Duke said. “This is just one of those things that happened in one of their cafes that they’re not proud of it.”

Duke said officials told her the assistant manager was new to her job.

“I don’t think she quite knew how to handle customers complaining about it,” Duke said.

Corporate officials said in a statement that “the last thing we would want to do is make anyone feel unwelcome.”

Watch this video report posted online by WTOC-TV:

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