HOUSTON, TX – You know what’s pretty cool? When local eateries hook up first responders with discounted meals solely for being first responders.
What isn’t cool is when first responders get a restaurant in hot water for other first responders eating OUTSIDE of that very restaurant.
…so now restaurants are responsible for what their customers do after they pick up an order?
— JWPATX1485 (@jwpatx1485) April 23, 2020
The Buffalo Grille location on Bissonnet in Houston is hooking up first responders with 100% free meals until May 2nd, after having offered them a 50% discount for years.
So, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to perhaps see some police officers grabbing some food from such an awesome establishment.
This restaurant just so happens to have a patio outside of the actual interior of the eatery. Now, since there’s an outdoor eating area, it likely wouldn’t be crazy to imagine a couple of cops eating at the table outside.
Yet, on April 20th, the establishment received a violation notice from the Houston Fire Department because police were eating at the patio.
First of all the officers of any kind have been dealing w/so much shit lately. Fires, deaths, Shootings, murders, and robberies etc. They’re Fkn hungry. They ate outside too. And!, Buffalo Grille shouldn’t have received a violation notice either.
— Me (@lovenothate48) April 23, 2020
John McAleer, the president of the company, explained what led to the restaurant getting a notice of violation.
A Houston firefighter had gone to snag a free meal from the establishment, but also told the manager on duty that they needed to instruct the police officers to leave the patio area.
Now, tell me what manager on duty at a restaurant wants to tell a bunch of police officers sitting on a patio table outside to go and hit the road? Well, apparently this manager on duty was among those who isn’t down with that gravity nonsense.
The manager was put in a tough spot and told the firefighter that they didn’t want to do it. So, the HFD member had instructed the officers that they needed to disperse instead.
[Editor’s note: This author was kind when he stopped at saying the firefighter didn’t want to do it. I say that the firefighter was a coward. In so many ways.
It’s Houston, for f’s sake: The cops were likely trying to scarf down their food before heading back out to their pending violence calls. Not everyone gets to go to their second home and sit in a comfy chair eating their takeout in between X-box games and their afternoon safety naps.
Every time I make a comment about firefighters, at least one of them sends me a hate email, but I don’t care. That is an a-hole move, and not even to the cops. The restaurant is the one that’s going to suffer for the violation notice.
Badly done, Houston Fire Department.]
According to McAleer, the following then transpired:
“About 15 minutes later, another set of police officers were there and the fire marshal came and asked them to leave and wrote us a notice of violation, I believe is what it’s called. We were surprised about it, but it is what it is. If we are in violation of it, we’ll take the notice.”
Now, to be fair, there was no fee assessed with the notice of violation. However, was this really the restaurant’s fault?
It is not the job of eateries to police the police.
Chief Sam Peña from the HFD released a statement about the incident:
“Both departments (HFD and HPD) are working diligently to enforce the spirit of the County’s Stay-Home order. With every one of the hundreds of complaint responses, the primary goal for HFD’s Occupancy Task Force has been to achieve voluntary compliance with the order through information and education.”
Okay, call me crazy, but was it not police officers that were eating on the patio? I mean, it sounds like the HFD is maybe working a little more “diligently” (or, I’d say over-zealously) to make sure no one is caught having a snack on an outdoor patio.
The chief’s statement continued with the following:
“We have been extremely successful in achieving this goal as was the case in this instance. Contrary to reports, the Buffalo Grille was not cited by the HFD Occupancy Task Force and there [were] no fees assessed. The complaint was resolved via notice of violation as required by the County’s Order.”
If by “extremely successful” in achieving said goal, the chief must have meant pissing off locals with the nonsense – then yes, job well done.
Oh, and the manager of the restaurant was told that if it happens again, they’ll go to jail. Even the owner of the business thinks that jail is a little far-fetched for being uncomfortable with telling police to not sit on a patio table:
“I believe that’s a little much. I understand rules are rules and just like every restaurant in the City of Houston, we have tried our best to do everything and stay within what seems to be kind of fluctuating guidelines.”
[Editor’s note: We believe it’s a little much too, Sir. And good luck finding someone to actually take the manager to jail, there, firefighter.
Stay in your lane.]
What’s even crazier is that the patio section doesn’t even belong to the restaurant.
So, they’re asking for regular citizens to tell even police that they’re not allowed to sit down at an area they have no stake in. McAleer confirmed that the patio doesn’t fully belong to the Grille:
“We have asked them not to sit the on adjoining patio, which is a common area, even though that’s not our patio fully. We hope they understand there is zero tolerance even for police officers. I hate to think of the officers going to sit in their cars and eat.”
Okay, let me put on my thinking cap for a second.
A group of police officers were eating on a common patio area, a firefighter told them to leave, then other cops came to grab some food and ate at the patio, and the fire department is getting on the manager on duty’s case.
Oh, and if the manager doesn’t go babysit everyone (to include police) and get them to leave, then they’re going to jail.
I’m certain there are some folks that are just going to say “well if you just obey the law…”
Law is there to create order. Threatening people with arrest for not being the food-court constable couldn’t be further from order.
This is exactly why so many are speaking out against draconian-esque orders in Harris County (generally thanks to County Judge Lina Hidalgo, which you can read more about here.)
McAleer simply wants to offer first responders a free meal for the time being, not have his employees told to throw cops off of the patio:
“We don’t want to police any first responders. All we want to do is thank them for doing their part.”
It’s this kind of shenanigans that does more damage to community relations with first responders than improvement.
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