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Union calls for boycott of Arby's after Florida officer denied service, Arby's apologizes

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By Mike Clary, Sun Sentinel

Sept. 02–The Pembroke Pines police chief demanded — and quickly received — an apology Wednesday from the Arby’s restaurant chain after one of the city’s uniformed officers said she was denied service “due to being a police officer.”

The incident allegedly happened Tuesday evening at the Arby’s at 11755 Pines Blvd. in the Pembroke Lakes Mall.

“I am offended and appalled that an individual within our community would treat a police officer in such a manner,” Chief Dan Giustino said in a news release issued Wednesday morning. “It is unacceptable, and I will be contacting the Arby’s CEO to demand an apology.”

Less than two hours after that release went out, police said Giustino had contacted Arby’s by phone. “Immediately following, Arby’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Brown, and Senior Vice President of Operations Scott Boatwright, contacted Chief Giustino to convey their sincere apologizes on behalf of their organization,” police said.

“Both gentlemen assured Chief Giustino that the employee’s behavior was unacceptable and not representative of the company’s values. Chief Giustino was appreciative and accepted their apology and now considers this matter closed.”

Arby’s also responded from company headquarters in Atlanta with a statement.

“We take this isolated matter very seriously as we respect and support police officers in our local communities,” the statement said. “As soon as the issue was brought to our attention, our CEO spoke with the Police Chief who expressed his gratitude for our quick action and indicates the case is closed.

“We will be following up with our team members to be sure that our policy of inclusion is understood and adhered to.”

In the original release, sent out at 9:13 a.m., Giustino said, “We recognize that this is an isolated incident confined to a single individual within our city, and appreciate the outpouring of support we continue to receive from the residents of Pembroke Pines.

“We are very proud of the partnerships we have built within our city, and for an incident like this to have happened is very disappointing for everyone,” Giustino said.

The alleged refusal of service was also mentioned in a tweet sent out Tuesday by someone who identified him or herself as a Pembroke Pines officer and calling for a boycott of the restaurant.

The only sign of the flap at the restaurant around lunchtime Wednesday were three television station satellite trucks. Customers in vehicles waited in the drive-thru lane, with only a few people seated inside.

“I think it’s a very poor way of treating people, especially a police officer,” said Pembroke Pines resident Don Gamson, 89, when asked about the incident as he left the restaurant. “To me, it’s super prejudiced. There’s no reason anybody should be treated that way.”

Founded in 1964, Arby’s is a franchised sandwich chain with more than 3,300 restaurants worldwide, according to its website.

Staff writer Marian Liu contributed to this report.

mwclary@tribune.com

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