A Nashville steakhouse on Monday acted quickly to control the damage done to its brand after employees forced a cancer patient to take off his hat and eventually had him escorted from the restaurant by police.
According to diners who were at Morton’s Steakhouse, chemotherapy patient Robert Chambers felt cold and decided to put on his hat at the conclusion of a $2,000 company Christmas dinner.
Multiple people from the 16 member party posted reviews on Yelp and messages on Facebook explaining that the manager had forced Chambers to take off the hat, telling him that he needed a doctor's note or to be seated away from the other diners. Eventually, police responded and all 16 diners were escorted from the restaurant.
In a statement posted to Facebook on Monday evening, Morton's said that its "executive team has been in contact with Mr. Chambers who fully accepted our apology."
"There was a complete and total misunderstanding by our staff who had no idea that our guest had a medical condition. Our actions were uninformed and our intentions were not malicious," the statement said. "As a sign of our sincere apology and commitment to the community, we are donating on behalf of Mr. Chambers, $2,000.00 to the St. Jude’s Hospital. In addition, Morton's The Steakhouse will also partner with Mr. Chambers to underwrite a cancer fundraiser."
The company did not explain why a doctor's note would have been required if Chambers felt the need to wear a hat.
For his part, Chambers said that Morton's COO Tim Whitlock was "very apologetic" during their 30 minute conversation.
"End result, Morton's will make a donation in the amount of our check to St Jude's Children's Hospital. Apology accepted time too be on," he wrote on Facebook. "I have more important things to fight than Morton's. Thanks to all of you for your words of support and angst over the situation."
While Morton's reacted quickly, a trend of Yelp reviews showed that the company's brand took a significant hit. In recent months, Morton's was consistently enjoying five star reviews that plummeted to a one star average over the last 30 days.
Watch this video from WXIX, broadcast Dec. 17, 2013.
[An angry man waiting his food in a restaurant via Shutterstock]