When you’re here, you’re family – especially if that family is full of boozehounds.  It seems that on March 31, a Florida Olive Garden mistakenly gave a toddler a sippy cup full of sangria instead of the orange juice that was ordered.  According to an AP report from today:

Jill VanHeest says she took her 2-year-old son Nikolai to the hospital after his eyes turned red and dilated and he began acting up. She said he was given fluids and released a couple hours later with no lasting effects.

This is interesting timing, because almost a week ago an Applebee’s in Michigan served another toddler a margarita instead of apple juice.

The company’s responses since have been interesting:

Applebee’s president Mike Archer, said, in part:

“We want to express how thankful we are that the child involved in the incident at our restaurant … was not seriously injured as a result of accidentally receiving the wrong beverage. We also want to apologize to his parents, for the stress and worry this caused them. Although our efforts to speak with the child’s parents have been unsuccessful, we extend our personal apologies.”

Further, the company has posted a few times on their Facebook page, as well as website, addressing the issue.

Conversely, Olive Garden spokesman Rich Jeffers, said, in part:

“This was an extremely regrettable accident caused by the failure of an employee to follow our strict operating procedures. We take this situation very seriously, and we are especially grateful that the child involved was not seriously harmed. We have absolutely no tolerance for failure to follow our operating procedures and we took swift, appropriate action to deal with this situation.”

The company’s Facebook page and corporate site fail to mention this issue, the former instead focusing on its sweepstakes and garden fare menu (they were probably too busy waterboarding the offending employee).  Also note that the Olive Garden debacle happened on March 31 – two weeks ago – with very little damage control until recently.  Applebee’s has taken a much more aggressive approach to this six-day-old incident, proactively responding to the issue – even publicizing its new training protocol for employees, without blaming anyone for making the mistake (albeit a doozy).

Both of these chains claim to be family-friendly, but which response leaves a better taste in your mouth?  My answer is the chain that avoided sweeping the problem under the rug and took the issue on.  Do you agree?

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4 Responses

  1. Dave

    Anybody can write a boilerplate apology – especially since there is no sarcasm font. Applebee’s looks better here.

    BUT: having opened the door that such a slip is possible, beware of the slip-and fall hucksters smuggling in vial of vodka for junior’s juice, then extorting the restaurant.

    Speaking of which – has such a scenario been ruled out in each case…? Not paranoid, jus’ askin’…

  2. Sam

    I heard about the Applebee’s incident a few days ago, but I had not heard anything about Olive Garden until I read this post. In sweeping this debacle under the rug, they may have effectively swept it out of the public eye. I’m not saying OG’s approach was honorable, but it may have been smarter from a public relations standpoint.

  3. cw

    hey, if a 2-year old can’t handle his booze… ITS ON HIM!! now is a good time for him to learn a little something called “self-reliance”! geez.

  4. CK

    …sangria doesn’t even look remotely like orange juice. Nor does a margarita look like apple juice. Are the parents THAT unobservant?


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