Former Applebee employee agrees to return to work at the Rice Lake Applebee’s burger restaurant after experiencing discriminatory and degoratory outburst by a customer.
By H. Nelson Goodson
March 23, 2013
Rice Lake, WI – On Saturday, Timothy Phares, a well known waiter at the Rice Lake Applebee’s Burger Restaurant decided to return to work after Apple American Group franchise CEO, Greg Flynn assured “his safety and welfare” and “zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind” at Applebee’s restaurants. Phares had given his two weeks notice after a customer made an out burst remark targeted at him pertaining to his sexual orientation. The management apparently failed to take adequate action at the time to stop the harassment or tell the customer that the restaurant has a zero tolerance policy and won’t tolerate any kind of discrimination towards any employee.
Days later at another location (near a Perkins Restaurant), Phares was beaten with a 2×4 by Rien L. Hendricks, 35, whose wife worked at Applebee’s. His wife drove Hendricks to where Phares was and after the battery assault attack left the scene. Phares’ sister witnessed the beating and was able to identify Hendricks and his wife as the suspects involed in the incident to police.
Phares was attacked from behind, just after exiting a vehicle and heading to a late night breakfast at Perkins with his sister. His sister, Krista Kathrine wrote in a FB posting, “I saw my brother laying in a pool of blood on the pavement and literally thought he was dead…we need to pray for justice to be served. Whether Shannon (Rien’s wife) and Rien had gay friends before or not, I don’t give a s–t. There’s no logical f–king reason to smash someone’s face with a GD 2×4 unless they felt they were in harms way… Which they were not, he was attacked from behind while we were going to try to have some late night breakfast at a different restaurant. They made the choice to attack him, they need to pay the price.”
Phares posted on March 19 in FB, “Rien Hendricks is the one that assaulted me with the 2×4, his wife was the driver. He broke my jaw and fractured my cheek bones!”
The incident was posted on Facebook (FB) and it went viral. People began posting comments on both the corporate and the Rice Lake Applebee’s franchise FB accounts despite some minimal attempt to delete the comments. FB users just kept on posting them back and vowed to stop eating at Applebee’s.
Hispanic News Network U.S.A. broke the story on the Internet. Applebee’s Corporate executives finally responded to their customer base outcry to rehire Phares who is described as a “good,” “excellent waiter” and “very nice person.”
Applebee’s released the following statement on Saturday, “Thank you for your concern about the recent events involving a team member at our Rice Lake, WI location. Our local Operations leadership as well as our Apple American Group franchise CEO, Greg Flynn, have spoken with our Team Member to personally assure him that, as with all our Team Members, his safety and welfare are our primary concerns and that there is zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind in our restaurants. We are pleased that he has agreed to continue his employment at the Rice Lake restaurant.
We will continue to look into this incident and cooperate with local law enforcement to provide them with any information requested to assist their investigation.”
In a statement posted in the Applebee’s Rice Lake FB account, Phares wrote, “Out of support for my family and the great TEAM that I work with I will not comment !! ( well I guess Im commenting lol ) I love my family and friends to much!! ♥ Peace & Harmony STOP VIOLENCE ITS NOT THE ANSWER!!!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ OH AND COME SEE US WE ALL ROCK IT AT BEES !!!!”
On March 20, Hendricks appeared at the Barron County Court and was charged with one felony count of sustainable battery with intend of bodily harm in connection with Phares assault. A $10,000 signature bond was set for Hendricks. A preliminary hearing for Hendricks is set for March 25.
Hendricks was taken into custody on March 17. Rice Lake police continue to investigate whether an additional suspect will be charged.
Timothy Phares and Rien L. Hendricks
Hendricks photo courtesy of the Barron County Sheriff’s Department