“We give you all our word that this unfortunate and innocent error on our part will not happen again”
They say an old dog cannot learn new tricks. That saying is wrong. And so were we last Friday. After more than a century of serving this incredible community, we were reminded that life is filled with learning new lessons and we learned a valuable one recently.
Last Friday afternoon, April 21, 2023, two customers came to visit the Texas Hot with a large dog. They sat down for a meal. Now, customers have been in before with dogs, but not always without incident. For background purposes, we once had a customer visit us with a large dog and it was genuine chaos; that big dog was running around all over the place, including in the back of our counter area. We asked the customer to keep the dog at the table but they refused and the dog continued to roam around the entire restaurant. I can still hear its claws clicking on the floor as it ran around the dining area! Things escalated and the Wellsville Police had to assist. Since then, we have been more vigilant to ensure when a dog enters the restaurant that the dining experience for the entire restaurant is not disrupted because we want everyone who visits the Texas Hot to have a pleasant meal with us on every single visit.
After these people entered and sat at a table last Friday, April 21, 2023, a waitress was asked to go to the table and request some confirmation that the German Shepard with the customers was indeed a service dog. It was our understanding that an emotional support animal is not a disability dog. An ADA-compliant “service animal” is a dog or a miniature horse. An emotional support animal may or may not be a dog, and it may not be trained at all.
This situation is about a dog and only a dog and it was influenced by the chaotic experience we had in the past. It is not and never will be about the race of the people, or their religion, or gender, or abilities, or politics, or anything else like that. It is not about one’s past or present vocations. Our country is so strong for so many reasons, and one such reason is the many brave veterans who protect our freedoms and rights. In fact, the Texas Hot family has multiple members who are or were veterans. My uncle even made the greatest possible sacrifice to help in our country’s cause. But this is not about a veteran; it is only about a dog and our customers. Please know that.
The waitress communicated with the customers who then asked to speak to the owner. The situation turned to what question was asked and how it was asked. That’s what this is about. And we got it wrong.
When the manager arrived at the table, she asked for some kind of proof that this was a service dog. The customer told the manager it was. When asked again for some kind of proof the conversation escalated. At no time did the manager ask about the customer’s disability or the reason for the dog.
We have learned Texas Hot was not in full knowledge of the relevant law. Though we always try to follow all Federal, New York State, County Health codes, along with all local laws, and we always operate in good faith, it is clear to us that we, in that moment, did not know the relevant law and we made a mistake in our handling of the situation.
There was certainly no malice on our part, only unfortunate ignorance of what can be a complicated law. We are 100% committed to our customers and we unintentionally let these folks down. We have always been committed to this community near and far, and always will be. We have demonstrated that genuine commitment in many ways for many decades and will continue to support the many great people and organizations in our communities.
We apologize. We are sincerely sorry that at that moment we did not know there are two and only two permitted questions a restaurant (or a library, or hospital, or any other place that welcomes the public) may ask to decipher whether a dog is an emotional support animal or an ADA compliant service dog. We have corrected this situation.
We are committed to doing better and express our gratitude to the customers last Friday who helped us learn a very important lesson that will only make Texas Hot a better restaurant for everyone as we enter the beginning of our second century. These customers deserved better and we promise we will do better.
We are truly sorry that this mistake caused the two customers who came to visit us that day to not find the welcoming they deserved. Sometimes change comes with challenges and this is one of those examples. People make mistakes. Pencils have erasers. We’re not perfect, but we get up every morning with the goal of providing a great dining experience to every single customer who visits us, no matter who they are, and we simply fell short of that goal last Friday. We give you all our word that this unfortunate and innocent error on our part will not happen again.
Mike Raptis – Texas Hot