Cochon Volant, the French restaurant inside the Loop's Hyatt Centric Hotel, found itself in the crosshairs of the Internet outrage machine over the weekend after staff refused to serve a military veteran and his service dog. The restaurant asked Army Maj. Diggs Brown and his black Lab to leave on Saturday morning after Brown had ordered breakfast. The dog assists the retired major with his symptoms from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Details of the "humiliating" incident were posted online, leading to an apology letter sent by the restaurant's manager to Brown, who hails from Fort Collins, Colo. Facebook commenters blasted the restaurant for its failure to comply with ADA regulations and for the embarrassment caused to Brown. Some of Brown's fellow serviceman were also angry about the restaurant's actions as being disrespectful to military personnel.
Brown served time in Afghanistan and met his dog — named Arthur Barker Black — two years ago. The pair were in Chicago to participate in a walk held by No Barriers USA, an organization working with wounded veterans with disabilities, according to the Tribune. The Trib also reported that on Saturday morning after Brown made his way to O'Hare International Airport on an empty stomach, he settled for a microwaved hot dog and Pepsi. He never received that salmon eggs Benedict ordered at Cochon Volant.
Cochon Volant said the employee(s) involved "will be dealt with swiftly and in addition we will be holding additional training with the entire staff to further ensure ADA compliance." This was posted on the dog's Facebook page maintained by Brown. The restaurant also said it would donate to a charity of Brown's choice, and he picked Puppies Behind Bars. They also vowed to host Brown at a Hyatt Centric of his choice.
There's no word on how much money was donated or if and how any employees were disciplined, as a spokeswoman hasn't responded to an email requesting comment. The French restaurant opened earlier this year.
For his part, Brown posted this morning appearing satisfied with the restaurant's apology. He wants to move on:
"Dear Cochon Volant,
I wish to express my sincere appreciation that you have taken corrective action for the incident that occurred with last Saturday regarding my being expelled from your establishment for having my service dog with me.
The fact that you are going to review ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) with your staff and assurances that this type of incident will never happen again, in my mind bring this incident to a close.