Hey Chili’s: You Gonna Fix This Problem You Had With A Veteran Or Not?


This has turned into one of those social media disasters that everybody talks about.

Veteran’s Day. A day to acknowledge that some folks went to war, served, or maybe died or were injured while in that service.

It’s also a day that some restaurants and other business offer some degree of thanks, with free food, services, material things. Call it good marketing, call it loyalty to those who served, call it somewhere in between. As it was last week when Chili’s joined the club.


Enter Ernest Walker, Dallas/Fort Worth area U.S. Army veteran. He walked into a Chili’s on Friday, ordered a meal — for free, as advertised — and began to enjoy it. As advertised. His service dog Barack loyally waited by his side as he got down to business, had a great meal, was thanked for his service, and walked out.

But wait … that’s not how this story actually ended. 

It seems a Trump supporter noticed the veteran sitting there and flagged management that Earnest might not be a veteran. The fact that Earnest is African American certainly made this situation worse in these post-Trumpocalypse times. According to Ernest, the elderly gentleman who complained was wearing a pro-Trump t-shirt.

“He said he was in Germany, and that they did not let Blacks serve over there.”

So … if someone questions a veteran’s veracity, what’s a junior management employee to do? I know what I’d do … shut up and let him eat. I mean, seriously — why even challenge that? The video of what he did is below.

And ever since this hit the fan, it’s been one of those social media disasters that all communications teams at big corporations become alcoholics over. There was a protest outside of the restaurant Friday, tons of customers have loudly complained on the Chili’s Facebook page, and the company has said in a prepared statement that it will reach out to Walker.

Great marketing move, Chili’s.

Just wow.

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