Chili's allegedly serves 4-year-old alcoholic drink

April 18, 2011 4:35:30 PM PDT
The owner of a South Side Chili's restaurant disputes allegations that a waitress served an alcoholic drink to a child.

Tyree Davis said her daughter, Brooklynn Morris, ordered a chocolate milkshake but instead was served a "Mudslide," a shake made with rum, at a Chili's restaurant on the 1700 block of West 119th Street.

"I was terrified, and I was calm because I basically wanted to make sure my baby was OK," Davis told ABC7. "She was like, 'I don't like it,' and I said, 'You don't like it? Why don't you like it?' And I took a sip. Immediately I could taste the alcohol, it was so strong."

The ERJ Dining company, owner of the Chili's, tells ABC7 it takes the claim seriously and has begun a formal investigation. However, the company disputes some of the details and says the waitress served the girl fruit punch and gave the rum drink to Davis.

Davis said her daughter had about four sips of the frozen drink before realizing it tasted funny.

"It made me mad and sick," said Brooklynn. "It was nasty."

Davis then called the waitress who Davis says admitted the mistake and brought Brooklynn a regular chocolate milkshake. Davis says she asked the waitress to leave both drinks on the table and snapped a picture of the alcoholic drink.

"She was saying her stomach hurt her, her head hurt. She was saying, 'I just wanna lay down, Mommy. I just wanna lay down,' and she would close her eyes for a bit and then open them like you do when you are intoxicated," said Davis.

Police tell ABC7 Davis called authorities to the Chili's but they told her it was a civil matter.

Davis says she was not charged for the drinks and there was no check. She said they skipped the meal and headed to Metro South Hospital in Blue Island because Brooklynn was vomiting and had a fever. Davis says doctors examined the child, discharging her with a report indicating the girl suffered from an overdose and alcohol ingestion.

"If the child just took a few sips, they may have some of the feelings of the alcohol but not necessarily be drunk enough to have a high level," said Dr. Susan Fuchs, Children's Memorial Emergency Room. "If the child is acting funny or if they are acting too sleepy, you worry about what happened."

Dr. Fuchs says in most cases children are just observed and no official treatment is administered for alcohol ingestion.

Davis says her daughter was given a breathing apparatus for a separate health condition that may have been triggered by the alcohol.

"I want it to never happen again. My goal is, I don't want this to happen to another child," said Davis.

Three similar incidents have taken place at different restaurants in cities across the U.S. this week.

Statement from ERJ Dining Management Team

  • At ERJ Dining, the health and safety of our guests is always our top priority. Yesterday evening, upon being notified of this incident, our local management team reached out to and spoke with Ms. Davis.
  • Our managers, bartenders and servers all receive alcohol awareness training, and we hold them accountable for adhering to our policies and procedures. We take the responsibility to serve alcohol to our guests very seriously and, as such, we have checks and balances in place as far as containers in which we serve alcoholic and kids' drinks. We'll immediately be re-emphasizing our policies and procedures to our team members.
  • We take claims such as this one seriously and we have begun a formal and thorough investigation.
  • Initial findings in our investigation reveal conflicting details of how this story is being reported and what occurred in our restaurant. The drink in question was served to an adult, in glass barware, not to a child or in a kids' cup.
  • To our knowledge, Ms. Davis and her daughter ordered a kids' drink (red fruit punch) and a chocolate shake. The fruit punch beverage was served to Brooklynn in a plastic kid cup with a lid and straw. The beverage Ms. Davis received was served in glass barware.