Officers booted from Cheesecake Factory for carrying firearms

Officers with the Department of Corrections were recently ousted from the Cheesecake Factory restaurant at the Tacoma Mall. Why? Because they were carrying their sidearms.

KIRO 7 reporter Kevin McCarty is covering this story for KIRO 7 News at 5 p.m. and will explain both sides -- the officers' take and the company's reaction. Watch with us on TV or use this link for the KIRO 7 News livestream.

"They had seated us in the back area," Miriam Nichols told KIRO Radio's Jason Rantz. "Shortly after the rest of our party arrived, we were asked to leave because we were carrying our firearms with us. They said they did not allow firearms in their establishment."

Related: King County Sheriff says giving inexperienced people a gun is a ‘huge mistake’

The group was seated in the back of the restaurant, Nichols noted. They avoided making too large of a scene as the officers showed their badges and law enforcement identification to the Cheesecake Factory managers, explaining why they — as officers — had guns on them.

“They said it didn’t matter and they asked us to leave,” Nichols said. “We left quietly and tried not to make more of a scene than it already was.”

Cheesecake Factory management was polite, she said, and weren’t trying to be rude over the situation.

“There are only so many ways to politely kick someone out of an establishment, though,” Nichols said.

“I was a little floored that it was even happening,” she said. “This wasn’t the first place that my colleagues and I have gone to lunch … having contact with clients, offenders, the general public, while on duty. This is the first time we had this reaction.”

Cheesecake Factory responds

The incident at the Tacoma Mall Cheesecake Factory made its way onto social media where it garnered considerable attention. Nichols said that people responded to it with outrage and disbelief.

“It’s kind of given that law enforcement carry firearms,” Nichols said.

It didn’t take long for the Cheesecake Factory’s corporate level management to respond. The restaurant released a statement:

Our policy is to allow uniformed and identified law enforcement officials to possess their service weapons on our premises. To the extent that there was a miscommunication of our policy, we sincerely apologize.

Nichols said her department has been contacted and the restaurant wants to rectify the situation. She has been told that there was a miscommunication with the Tacoma management and that the company does not have a policy to ban law enforcement with firearms from their restaurants.

“They said it was not a corporate policy that law enforcement cannot be there,” Nichols said. “In fact, they do allow law enforcement to be there, carrying firearms concealed or open carry because they are law enforcement. They are sincerely sorry about how this was handled. It was misinformation from the manger to us that got this whole situation started.”

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