WINTER HAVEN, FL (WFLA) — The Lake Alfred police officer, who says he was denied service at a Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Winter Haven, says he forgives the employee who wouldn’t take his order.
The story went viral online after Officer Adam Leatherberry posted the following on Facebook:
“So today around 1430 hours Geoff Price and I went to Tropical Smoothie, located at 301 West Central Avenue in downtown Winter Haven, Fl. As we walked in together I was in plain clothes and he was in his police uniform. This guy in the picture and another worker were the only two employees present. This guy said “Hell no!” to his buddy as he seen us at the counter ready to place our order. His buddy replied what and then he said “I’m not serving them! You can… it’s the cops! I refuse to serve them!”
“We walked out to avoid any extra sauces in our food. I called to speak to the manager, Beth, and was told she wouldn’t be there until tomorrow. Guess I will not be going back there. Another place that does not support law enforcement. #tropicalsmoothie #placesnottoeat #cops #lawenfocement”
Tropical Smoothie Cafe fired the employee, Jake Hadden.
Hadden apologized to the officer on Facebook and told News Channel 8 that he doesn’t have anything against police. He said he was at the end of his shift and did not want to stay late to assist any customer.
Hadden said, “I shouldn’t have said anything, knowing what’s going on in our country right now with cops and everything going on. I understand completely why it’s so big and going viral so fast, but it was all just a big misunderstanding. It’s not like I went up to him to his face and said, ‘I wasn’t going to serve you,’ it’s just I didn’t want to go out to the counter and take anymore orders, so I told my co worker to do it.”
Monday night, Officer Adam Leatherberry responded to the story on the Tropical Smoothie Cafe – Winter Haven Facebook page:
“I was overwhelmed with the support from so many people and apologize if I have not had a chance to thank each of you personally. I would like to thank Tropical Smoothie for taking the appropriate action. I don’t hold any grudges as with any profession there are bad apples. I spoke with their management and truly do believe that this is an isolated incident as I have been in there before without any issues. I think that with all that is going on in this world people should ban together and not judge people by their color, gender, or profession. I’m not sure what the gentleman’s problem was with law enforcement or his past history of encounters but I forgive him too. I have removed the original post from public view as I feel the issue has been resolved. Thanks and God Bless. #tropicalsmoothie”
In response to all of the comments online – including some calls to boycott the restaurant, Tropical Smoothie Cafe IN Winter Haven posted Monday night:
“Tropical Smoothie Café of Winter Haven, FL was deeply upset to learn about the actions taken by an employee towards local law enforcement officials. Upon notification, we immediately took action and terminated this employee. We place hospitality and customer service as a top priority not only for law enforcement officials but for all public servants and guests alike. Thank you to our loyal fans for your continued support.”