The saga of waitress Chelsea Welch and pastor Alois Bell's fateful encounter Jan. 25 at a St. Louis Applebee's continues. Early Friday morning, the restaurant chain posted an official response on its Facebook page after Welch was fired Wednesday. Bell complained about a picture the waitress posted on Reddit. The receipt showed Bell's handwriting after deleting an 18 percent required tip for the pastor's party. The religious leader's message read, "I give God 10 percent, why do you get 18?"
What did Applebee's corporate say regarding the situation?
The restaurant chain called the franchisee's action an "unfortunate situation." In defending the manager who fired Welch, Applebee's says it is a "universal standard" that "guests... deserve to be treated with professionalism and care... ."
The restaurant chain then said Bell's privacy and personal information should have been protected. It quoted a statement in the employee handbook, "Employees must honor the privacy rights of Applebee's and its employees by seeking permission before writing about or displaying internal... happenings that might be considered to be a breach of privacy and confidentiality. This shall include... posting of photographs... without first obtaining written approval... . Employees who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment."
The Facebook post has more than 7,100 comments.
What did Welch say about the incident?
The server's initial Reddit post was entitled, "My mistake sir, I'm sure Jesus will pay for my rent and groceries." In an interview with Yahoo! News, Welch said there was "nothing specific in the employee handbook admonishing this behavior."
Welch wasn't even Bell's server. Someone else took the order and delivered the food. Welch photographed the receipt, which clearly shows the pastor's signature, but not the name of the restaurant.
What did Bell say?
KTVI reports the pastor, who is 37 and ministers to a downtown St. Louis storefront church called Truth in the Word Deliverance Ministries, felt sorry for the waitress. "It was dumb of me and I can say that because I take responsibilities for all my actions, Bell told the television station. The pastor alleges she left a $6.29 tip while other members of her party also left cash. The woman's credit card was also swiped for the automatic tip even though she crossed it out on the receipt.
What has been the public's response?
An online petition has been signed by more than 5,000 people who promise to eat the restaurant chain at least once in 2013 if Applebee's rehires Welch. The young woman told KTVI she has received offers of financial support after she was fired and her story went viral.
William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.