Houlihan’s Apologizes For Turning Away Veteran With Service Dog

Not the Houlihan's in question. (ChrisYunker)

Not the Houlihan’s in question. (ChrisYunker)

National chain Houlihan’s has fired a manager at a Chicago-area restaurant and apologized to an Army war veteran who says he was refused a table for lunch on Sunday because he had his service dog with him.

A 32-year-old who says he has post-traumatic stress disorder after serving for more than nine years on tours in Iraq and Afghanistan was accompanied by his Labradoodle — wearing a red service cape — and his mother for lunch over the weekend.

According to the group, a Houlihan’s hostess as well as her manager questioned the need for the service animal and said dogs weren’t allowed inside when the group walked into the restaurant, reports the Elgin Courier-News.

The family went to another restaurant nearby and were served without a problem, they say, but the vet’s mom posted about the experience on her Facebook page as well as Houlihan’s, in order to spread awareness.

The vice president of operations for Houlihan’s Restaurant Group said she and the company were “mortified” to hear of how the veteran and his dog were treated, noting that the manager had been fired and the restaurant is donating $2,000 to Pets for Vets, upon the vet’s recommendation.

The vet, his parents and his dog all went back to Houlihan’s on Monday, where the company says they all “had a nice conversation” about how the restaurant could do better in a similar situation the next time. That’s when the veteran and his family suggested the donation to Pets for Vets, to help cover the cost of training service dogs for others.

“We are sincerely apologetic for the lack of respect and compassion that this veteran and his family experienced in our restaurant,” she said, adding that it’s company policy to welcome service dogs in all Houlihan’s restaurants.

“He helps keep me calm … alerts me when there is something wrong,” the vet said of his dog, adding of the Houlihan’s experience that his canine companion “was just there to comfort and calm me down afterwards. I was rather upset.”

He says that Houlihan’s management “apologized profusely” and adds that he thinks the company is sincere.

Restaurant apologizes for turning away vet with service dog [Elgin Courier-News]