Over the weekend, National Guard soldier Billy Welch stopped by a Waffle House in Nicholasville, Kentucky to order some food, but was quickly told that he would not be served unless he put his firearm outside in his vehicle.
Welch told LEX18.com that he had stopped Sunday morning for breakfast and was wearing his guard uniform. He also had his firearm holstered on his hip. After he ordered, he says that the waitress waved him over.
“I got up and I walked over to them, asked them how they were doing and stuff, and they said I’d have to take my firearm outside,” said Welch. “I don’t feel comfortable taking my firearm away from me. I always keep it with me and they said, ‘it’s one of our policies.’”
Welch told the waitress that he couldn’t leave his firearm outside and didn’t think much more of it.
“You know, if I can’t have my firearm, then I can’t be here,” said Welch. “I walked inside to the other waitress. I said, ‘thank you, but no thank you ma’am. I’m gonna have to leave.'”
The owner of the Nicholasville Waffle House made this statement, “For many years we have had a “No Firearms” police in place in our restaurants. We continue to believe this is the best policy for the safety of our customers and associates.”
The Waffle House franchise owner released another statement Wednesday, in hopes of clarifying the company’s position.
The statement reads as follows: “Unfortunately, we have been besieged with a misrepresentation of the facts regarding the incident with the National Guardsman, Mr. Welch, at one of LexiDan Foods Waffle House establishments. The facts are simple. We do have a policy posted on our Waffle House franchise buildings stating our policy in permitting firearms in our buildings. We normally are very loose on how we enforce that policy in terms of the military. However, on this particular incident, two facts have not been reported accurately that facilitated the situation with Mr. Welch. First, he was an active participant in a fight on the premises several weeks prior to September 27th. He was restrained and taken off the premises by off-duty police officers that were eating in the restaurant at the time. The second item not reported accurately was the time the most recent incident occurred, 2AM. We have associates who have to make snap decisions on our third shifts to provide for their own safety and the safety of our customers. Our associates decided because of Mr. Welch’s recent altercation, which they witnessed, it was in their best interest at 2 AM to ask Mr. Welch to leave his firearm in his vehicle. Mr. Welch decided to leave. We still tried to garner his business at that point. I am supportive of my team’s decision. I was not there and will not judge their decision making after the fact. If this incident occurred at 10am in the morning and Mr. Welch had not been involved in a previous fight I’m sure the outcome would have been different. I feel Lex 18 did not do due diligence in their reporting. We are highly supportive of all our military branches and especially supportive of our veterans. I hope this provides some clarification on the matter. Thank you for taking the time to read this and understanding that in any business, judgment decisions have to be made to provide for the safety of our associates and customers.”
In response to that statement, Welch told LEX 18’s Josh Breslow that the altercation involved him being attacked in the parking lot. Welch said there was no fight and that he chose not to press charges.
What do you think about the outcome of this request from Waffle House? While we have limited information on the supposed fight in the parking lot, where do you stand on this story?