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Old 01-14-2014, 05:38 PM
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Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

Kirthana Ramisetti
TODAY contributor

January 13, 2014

When Catherine Duke stopped in at her local Panera Bakery in Savannah, Georgia, earlier this month, she thought it would be a routine stop at her regular eatery.

Instead, the mom of two daughters, 3 year old Ana and 2 year old Emma, said she found herself becoming a squeaky wheel over a pair of squeaky shoes — sticking up for her family against what she felt was discrimination.

Due to a number of developmental disorders and a spinal abnormality, Emma wears orthopedic shoes, which were prescribed to her by her orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist.

Duke said that when she walked with Emma to get a coffee refill, an employee at the independently owned Panera franchise took her aside and asked if she could remove her daughter’s shoes.

The reason? According to Duke, the employee said that customers were complaining that the shoes were squeaking.

“I explained that she had a disability and could not remove her shoes, and there were no other shoes she could wear because they were prescribed by her doctor,” Duke told TODAY.com. “And I told her that I would be leaving if my child wasn't welcome in her shoes. And she said, ‘Oh we don't want to lose your business,’ but, I left the restaurant crying.”

While little Emma didn’t notice the fracas caused by her shoes, her older sister did: Duke said that Ana asked her, "Mommy, why are they being mean to our family?"

Duke spoke to the store's management about the incident, and also spoke out in local media. She met with franchise officials a little over a week later, and says they gave her a formal apology and even offered to hold a fundraiser to help pay for Emma’s medical bills.

When asked about the incident, the local franchise official said he could not comment, and referred TODAY.com to Panera Bread’s corporate office which issued the following statement:

"As you would expect, Panera Bread does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. The last thing we would want to do is make anyone feel unwelcome. Consistent with this system-wide policy, our franchisee met personally with Mrs. Duke to directly hear and address the concerns she has raised. We understand from our franchisee that Mrs. Duke has been assured that she and her family are always welcome at Panera and her concerns have been addressed."

Duke says she is satisfied with the restaurant chain's response, but as for going back where she was once a regular, she isn't yet sure.

“The management has assured me she'll be able to wear her shoes there,” she says. “As far as me going back in there, I guess only time will tell if she'll be accepted there or not.”

Duke adds that she wasn’t “trying to smear Panera’s name” by bringing her story to light, and only wanted to stand up for her daughter and other children who are disabled.

“I've had a lot of people supportive and thankful that I said something,” she says. “I just wanted to make people aware that children with disabilities are discriminated against. It's wrong. A lot of people don't say something, but I wanted to. I don't want them to ever be taken advantage (of) or mistreated.”

Photos Courtesy of Catherine Duke
Emma Duke in the shoes she wore to the restaurant
Emma with Catherine
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Old 01-14-2014, 05:53 PM
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Re: Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

Quote:
"Mommy, why are they being mean to our family?"
Fuck whoever is cutting onions in my house

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Old 01-14-2014, 06:01 PM
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Re: Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

Aww she is adorable! I've never heard of such a thing, removing shoes in a place you eat at? I rather hear them squeak.

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Old 01-14-2014, 06:31 PM
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Re: Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

Very cute kid, and it's baffling that people were minding the squeaking of a kids shoes. Kid's shoes often squeak like that.

However, it sounds like they just asked the mom if she would mind and when the mom said she couldn't and they were prescription then the employee essentially said "Oh sorry, we don't want to lose your business please don't be offended." Don't know why it warranted her 'championing the cause'.

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Old 01-14-2014, 06:38 PM
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Re: Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

Some people are just rude and ignorant assholes

My sneakers squeak when they are wet and my spikes click, but, I wear them when it's icy.

No one ever said anything to me, but, they pick on an adorable little angel!

She looks like a little doll The food probably would have made her sick anyway

Sad she had to learn so young how some people are

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Old 01-14-2014, 09:44 PM
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Re: Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

Adults actually complained about squeaky shoes? How fucking ridiculous.

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Old 01-14-2014, 11:05 PM
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Re: Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

If the child was with me, I'd stomp with her and tell her to stomp her feet loudly, too!

I cannot make my shoes squeak at will, but, I can stomp!

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Old 01-15-2014, 01:23 AM
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Re: Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

I've never been to a Panera Bread.. is it a merged establishment like Starbucks + Barnes & Noble? With Panera Bread being merged with a library or something where people want quiet?

Rhetorical questions aside, I take it there were "regulars" there who were annoyed by the noise and asked the employee to do something about it. The employee is stupid to even ask a customer to remove their child's shoes in the first place.

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Old 01-15-2014, 02:07 AM
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Re: Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

I went to Panera Breads in college to do study sessions. There was a dull roar in the background, maybe slightly louder than most restaurants.

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Old 01-15-2014, 03:27 AM
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Re: Restaurant Apologizes After Child With Disability Asked to Remove Shoes

What??

FOR FUCKS SAKE

squeaky shoes.....whats gonna be next.

IS EVERYTHING FUCKING GONNA BOTHER SOME OVER-SENSITIVE spoiled idiots?


at any rate, there IS a flip side to this:

are NON-DISABLED folks also asked to remove their shoes if they annoy some twits also?

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