San Antonio, TX – Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse in San Antonio has issued an apology to a uniformed San Antonio police officer who was asked to leave their restaurant on Saturday night because he was armed.
The story of what happened was posted to social media and quickly set off a firestorm of criticism about the chain restaurant.
“Earlier tonight a SAPD Sgt joined his family for a birthday dinner at Fogo de Chao in San Antonio. He was dressed in his soft uniform displaying his badge and carrying his duty weapon,” Jason Chandler posted on Facebook.
“After about 30 minutes he was approached by a manager and asked to leave,” the post continued. “The manager stated it’s [sic] their corporate policy that ‘No Guns’ are allowed inside the establishment.”
“The manager was advised that the ‘Law’ applies to concealed carry permit holders and not police officers. The manager again said to leave. The Sgt asked if he was in full uniform trying to eat would he still be asked to leave ……the manager again said yes!!” Chandler wrote.
“The Sgt accepted the managers request and left the establishment as his family stayed behind to sing happy birthday to the family member. To all my brothers and sisters in blue….San Antonio always backs the blue and for this to happen in our city is an attack on all of us. Feel free to spread the word,” the post ended.
Texas law explicitly prohibits businesses from doing exactly what the management of Fogo de Chao did to the San Antonio officer on July 27, KSAT reported.
Texas law says “an establishment serving the public may not prohibit or otherwise restrict a peace officer or special investigator from carrying on the establishment’s premises a weapon that the peace officer or special investigator is otherwise authorized to carry, regardless of whether the peace officer or special investigator is engaged in the actual discharge of the officer’s or investigator’s duties while carrying the weapon.”
The law applies to hotels, motels, places of lodging, restaurants, retail businesses, sports venues, and any other public place such as amusement parks and resorts, KSAT reported.
San Antonio Police Officers’ Association President Detective Mike Helle said the restaurant did the wrong thing.
“I am afraid that it boils down to education,” Det. Helle told KSAT. “I would like to think they are not anti-police or that that individual who asked him to leave is not anti-police, but I think he probably wasn’t educated on what the law allows or doesn’t allow.”
While the management of a business in Texas has the right to ask a concealed carry permit holder not to bring a weapon into their business, doing the same thing to a member of law enforcement is against the law.
“They would have been in the right if it was just a private citizen carrying like that, but the law is very specific when it comes down to a police or peace officer,” Det. Helle explained.
He explained that the sergeant could have argued with the restaurant’s management but he didn’t want to disrupt the birthday party, KSAT reported.
“They kind of made a boo-boo on this one, and the officer could have held his ground but he didn’t because he didn’t want to cause a scene,” Det. Helle said. “We just hope that Fogo de Chao learns from this and if other businesses learn from it, as we then we all just kind of grew as a city.”
The restaurant has acknowledged its mistake and issued an apology to the officer and his police department, according to KSAT.
“We sincerely apologize to the San Antonio Police Department and the officer in question for the incident that occurred at our restaurant last night,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, a member of our team made the wrong call. We are working hard to address and correct this unfortunate lapse in judgement.”
“We will address the policy internally and make sure our team members are clear,” the restaurant continued. “We support, respect and appreciate everything our law enforcement does to keep each and every one of us safe, day in and day out.”