SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. – A sheriff says he was "speechless" after learning that the owner of a teriyaki restaurant asked his deputies not to return because "other customers didn't like law enforcement there."
Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt said his chief deputy spoke to the owner of Lucky Teriyaki in Sedo-Woolley, Washington, to confirm what he had heard, according to KCPQ.
"The owner not only repeated the request but asked that we spread the word to other law enforcement that they were no longer welcome either," Reichardt said Thursday.
Here is the full statement posted on Facebook by Reichardt:
"I am not often speechless but today I was advised of an incident at the Lucky Teriyaki restaurant in Sedro-Woolley that completely took me by surprise. Particularly on the heels of the United We Stand by our Law Enforcement event that was such an overpowering show of appreciation for our deputies and officers serving Skagit County.
This afternoon 4 Skagit County Sheriff’s office deputies were finishing up lunch at Lucky’s. As 2 deputies went up to pay they were informed by by the owner that he requested they not eat there anymore. They were told that other customers didn’t like law enforcement there. My chief deputy spoke to the owner to confirm this because he simply could not believe what he was hearing. The owner not only repeated the request but asked that we spread the word to other law enforcement that they were no longer welcome either.
I understand a business owner has a right to refuse service if he wants to…….I also understand that as customers we all have the right to find some other restaurant to take our lunch break in."
In just two hours the post was shared more than 10,000 times.
Many comments expressed outrage at law enforcement being banned from the restaurant, while others were skeptical. Some people accused the sheriff of posting secondhand, unconfirmed information or suggesting there was a language barrier.
Reichardt responded to dozens of comments, saying that there was no language barrier and that news of the restaurant's alleged anti-law enforcement policy was already circulating on social media. Reichardt said the purpose of the Facebook post was to confirm the facts.
The owner of the Lucky Teriyaki broke down in tears Thursday night and said cops are welcome at his restaurant -- will even get free meals on Monday -- after a public backlash to a report by the Skagit County sheriff said the man had told deputies that law enforcement officers were no longer welcome at his establishment.
The man's son said it had all been a misunderstanding and he apologized for the incident.