VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s the social media story everyone is talking about — the local IHOP hostess that turned off a Virginia Beach police officer with a joke.
The interaction happened around 5:30 a.m. Saturday. Police won’t comment, but according to the Fordham Drive IHOP manager, Ron Barnett, the officer actually sat down, then left when he was offended. Then he called IHOP to tell them why he left.
While there’s varying accounts of what was said, the officer left the restaurant, at the very least, after he felt disrespected.
“It’s a he-said-she-said, and it is a misunderstanding,” IHOP spokesperson Craig Hoffman said. The misunderstanding is why the hostess is now on leave, according to Barnett.
The story started with a Facebook post by Rocco Grieco: “My uncle, who is VBPD, after a long, 12-hour night shift, walked into IHOP located at Fordham Drive in Virginia Beach. He was in full uniform. While waiting to be seated, the manager/hostess told him, ‘We don’t serve your kind.’ He simply walked out. This is also a 20 year retired Navy, who served his country, then joined the police department to serve his community.”
IHOP denies the comment “not serving your kind” was ever used.
“While we don’t call into question the veracity of the officer, the team member in question claims that is not what happened, and, unfortunately, she was trying to make a lame joke that the restaurant was not open … when it obviously was,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman sums it up this way: When the officer asked, “are you open?” the hostess was wrong to make a joke — with an empty restaurant — by saying, “No, we’re closed because we’re so busy.”
“While I can understand his interpreting that as being unwelcome, that is not what was meant,” Hoffman continued. “It is not appropriate for her to have said that. She has apologized, the franchisee has reached out to the officer.”
The whole story is ironic, because that IHOP location apparently has a close relationship with police, giving officers the same discounts IHOP gives their own employees.
“This is a restaurant that, for many years, has had a standing policy of welcoming police officers, fire officials, and emergency medical personnel,” Hoffman said.