HOT SPRINGS, AR (RNN) – An Arkansas IHOP will re-train its employees after a mother says the manager would not let her 3-year-old, who was born without arms, eat at the restaurant because he eats with his feet.
The Bancroft family, including 3-year-old William, went to an International House of Pancakes in Hot Springs, AR, Saturday morning for breakfast because the boy wanted pancakes, according to KARK.
But the family never got to order.
Because he was born without arms, William eats with his feet while sitting on a table. The boy’s mother, Alexis Bancroft, says the boy learned the technique in therapy.
However, the general manager at IHOP told Bancroft that William couldn’t sit on the table and touch the syrup containers because it was a health department issue, KARK reports.
"When we got there, I carried him in, took him to the bathroom and washed his feet so he could eat," Bancroft said. "I asked her, 'Do you ask all of your customers if they washed their hands before they touch them [syrup containers]?'"
Bancroft says this is the first time a restaurant has ever had a problem with the way William eats.
The family left without paying for their drinks.
The general manager later apologized, the mother says, but the damage was already done. Bancroft told KARK that the day after the incident, the boy wanted to sit in a chair instead of on the table.
Bancroft posted about the situation on Facebook, where she received support from many.
“People are so ignorant of others and disabled patrons. I hoped you called corporate and she was terminated for being ignorant,” one commenter said.
The mother also thanked several IHOP patrons who witnessed the incident. She said a veteran and two women had just received their food but left when the Bancrofts did, and a father asked his kids if they’d washed their hands – to which, they said no – then had every child touch the syrup.
The manager is now on leave, KARK reports.
In a statement, the president of IHOP says the location’s owner will work with Bancroft to resolve the issue.
“IHOP and our franchisees do not tolerate actions that are or allude to discrimination of any type. The franchisee at this location has been in touch with the guest to express his sincerest apologies and will continue to be in communication with her to resolve the issue,” read the statement in part.
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