FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – The Cook Out fast food restaurant located in Rocky Mount fired two employees this week after an incident involving some local sheriff’s deputies.
Company leaders said that during a busy period over this holiday weekend, the restaurant was understaffed and many customers experienced long wait times, including two law enforcement officers.
In a statement given to 10 News Wednesday, the company said the officers asked the cashier if a manager was available, but the cashier didn’t go get the manager and the manager did not make himself available to speak to the officers.
Company leaders said they fired both employees because their actions “do not reflect the principles by which our company operates and is in direct conflict with our policy.”
Posts circulated this week on social media alleging that some local deputies were “refused service” at the Cook Out fast food restaurant in Rocky Mount.
In an earlier statement sent to 10 News, Cook Out company leaders said they completed an internal investigation, through which they “found evidence of extremely long wait times” due to being understaffed during the holiday weekend.
The Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Tuesday evening, to assure the public that it is aware of the situation but to also ask people to “not rush to judgement and give the restaurant the ability to thoroughly investigate the circumstances behind the incident.”
While it did not name the restaurant, the Sheriff’s Office said it is “confident that this business will investigate and address the situation appropriately.”
Franklin County resident Bill O’Brien said he hopes Cook Out was not discriminatory on purpose.
“A place that is a restaurant that is open to the public should serve all members of the public, including public safety and law enforcement," O’Brien said. “If somebody said, ‘Hey, I’m not going to serve you because I disagree with you and I don’t like you,’ I don’t think anybody would like that.”
O’Brien said he talked with some of his friends within the Sheriff’s Office to get their opinions on what happened.
“I would say they were more fired up than I am," O’Brien said. "They’re not fired up in terms of marching or doing something drastic about it, but they were upset.”
In Tuesday’s statement, the Sheriff’s Office said it was hopeful the situation was the result of one or two employees and not support by restaurant management.
O’Brien also believes it was an isolated incident.
“There’s some bad eggs in every group," O’Brien said. "If it was the corporate policy, that would be bad. If it was just the emotional act of one person, which I think it was -- I’m just hoping for the best -- it’ll be over.”
Cook Out apologized to customers for the “unacceptable” wait times and long lines for customers.
Read the full statement from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office below:
"There has been a lot of discussion on social media the past couple of days in reference to a situation that occurred over the weekend where our deputies were not served at a local fast food restaurant. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the incident and has spoken to the deputies involved. The corporate office of this establishment was contacted, and we are confident that this business will investigate and address the situation appropriately. We ask that citizens not rush to judgement and give the restaurant the ability to thoroughly investigate the circumstances behind the incident. It is our hope that this situation was simply the action of one or two persons and not supported by the restaurant or its management team.
This entire department appreciates all the continued support from our community and from all supporters of Law Enforcement. We are thankful and blessed to serve Franklin County."
Read the full statement(s) from Cook Out below:
Given to 10 News on Wednesday evening:
“As a result of our internal investigation into the complaints at the Rocky Mount, VA store, we found evidence of extremely long wait times and failure to greet many guests within an acceptable amount of time over the holiday weekend. These guests of the Rocky Mount, VA location included 2 law enforcement officers who asked the cashier if a manager was there. The cashier did not go and get the manager and the manager did not make himself available to speak to the officers.
The actions of these individuals do not reflect the principles by which our company operates and is in direct conflict with our policy. The manager on duty and the cashier of the Rocky Mount, VA store have been terminated.
We worked with the Sheriff’s department throughout the investigation and we communicated the findings directly to the Sheriff’s office as soon as we concluded our investigation.
We are thankful and it is our honor to serve the Sheriff’s department and all our guests in the Rocky Mount, VA area. Our goal is to serve all of our guests great food with fast service and add joy to every customers day!”
Original statement, given to 10 News earlier on Wednesday afternoon:
"We would like to sincerely apologize for the unacceptable longer than normal wait times and long lines for our customers. We were understaffed over the Labor Day holiday weekend at our Rocky Mount, VA location and are truly sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused our customers.
After completing an internal investigation into the operations of our Rocky Mount, VA location, and speaking with customers who called into our customer service center. We have found evidence of extremely long wait times and failure to greet our guests within an acceptable amount of time over the holiday weekend. We were understaffed at the Rocky Mount, VA location over the holiday weekend which resulted in unacceptable slow service. Several customers sent us complaints and some even drove off due to these longer than normal wait times and for this we apologize. We have taken immediate appropriate corrective action to address the staffing issues and improve the wait times at the Rocky Mount, VA location.
We are very thankful for the continued support of all of our customers in Rocky Mount, VA. It is our honor to serve first responders and all of our customers. We will continue to provide great service and great quality food for all of our customers."