Muslim woman says Texas restaurant contaminated her drink with bacon

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by JOBIN PANICKER / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 10:49 AM

GARLAND, Texas — Nicole Queen never wanted the attention; only to make a simple statement on how she felt she was being treated.

A converted Muslim, she said it was supposed to be a casual lunch with a friend at TGI Friday's at the Firewheel Town Center in Garland. She said her lunch date started with a very cold reception from the server.

“It was kind of like being taken care of behind bars,” Queen said.

She said the server was put off by a request to remove bacon from her Cobb salad because it is forbidden for Muslims to eat pork.

“Me and my friends were like, 'Let's be extra nice to him, because maybe he’s not comfortable with us because we’re Muslim,'” Queen recalled.

But she said that helped little in easing the tension between them and the server.

By the end of the meal, she said their original waiter had stopped serving them and they were being handled by another employee.

When it came time to pay the bill, their new server asked if Queen wanted a refill on her iced tea to-go. She thought that was really odd, because she’s never been given a refill to-go for free, but thought it was the server offering a kind gesture.

Queen said when she took a sip from her iced tea in the parking lot, she noticed something was off from the very start.

She said there were pieces of bacon in her straw.

“I knew right away that that it was bacon, and I knew right away that it had been placed in my straw because that was the first thing that went into my mouth,” Queen said.

She said she remembered what bacon tasted like from before she converted. She took the cup to the restaurant manager, but didn’t feel like the manager was taking her complaint seriously.

“He said, 'Our wait staff does not have access to the kitchen and they wouldn’t do that on purpose.' Everything that came out of his mouth was denial and excuses,” she said.

News 8 asked Queen if she had evidence of the bacon pieces in the straw. She said the manager had taken the cup from her and tossed it.

A spokesman for TGI Friday's provided this statement to News 8 on Wednesday night:

"We take this matter very seriously, as it would represent a gross violation of our values and the promise we make to each of our guests. We have been in contact with the guest, and we are working with her to investigate. We will take any appropriate actions necessary based on the findings.”

Queen converted from Christianity to Islam six years ago. She still holds on to the first Quran that her now-husband handed to her.

“They made me feel like a minority, and I’ve never known what that feels like,” Queen said.

She added that she has no intention of filing a lawsuit against the restaurant, but hopes her experience can be a teaching moment for people in that establishment.

She hopes Friday's offers sensitivity training to their employees.

Late Wednesday night, Queen told News 8 that an executive had called her apologizing for the way she was treated, and was assured they would fully investigate what happened that Tuesday afternoon.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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