MANSFIELD — The Bob Evans corporate office released a statement Monday in response to controversy last week at the Trimble Road restaurant in Mansfield.
On July 3, two Mansfield police officers were allegedly refused service at the Bob Evans restaurant at 525 N. Trimble Road. A representative from Bob Evans Guest Relations responded to the incident via email, saying it was a mistake by the staff at the restaurant that day.
"We were understaffed for the number of guests that arrived that day, and we did not live up to our hospitality standards," the email stated. "We do not have any policy that discriminates service, and we are honored to serve our community police across our system every day.
"Our restaurant staff is devastated by the mistake and misunderstanding and we apologize for any inconvenience or anxiety this has caused."
Mansfield police Chief Keith Porch said was made aware of the incident that occurred at the Trimble Road Bob Evans.
"I have also been informed that management from Bob Evans has reached out to the officers to discuss the incident and I’m hopeful the matter will be resolved," Porch said via email.
Greg Cox, director of operations for the Trimble Road restaurant, said he has been with Bob Evans since 2001 and has never seen behavior different than offering service to all guests.
"We would never refuse service to anyone," Cox said on July 5. "We are a part of this community and we offer great service to our guests. Hospitality is our number one goal and we serve all people."
The incident prompted a show of support for law enforcement over the weekend, organized in part by the Back the Blue Central Ohio Facebook group.
"We were told (the officers) were seen, they were seated, and then they were kind of ignored," said Mandie Devault, a co-creator of the Facebook group. "So we came out to let everybody know that maybe they need to start supporting our law enforcement as well."
A group of approximately 30 people at various times stood in front of the Trimble Road restaurant on Sunday, donning attire showing their support of local law enforcement and the "thin blue line." A silent sit-in was also organized at the restaurant on Saturday.
Devault said she created the Facebook group not as a protest group, but purely as a show of thanks and support.
"It was just our way of pretty much speaking out for them and letting everybody know they're not all bad," she said. "Unfortunately, there are a few who push the envelope, but we still stand firm behind the 99 percent of the great ones who are out there for us."