Oak Lawn Red Lobster apologizes for crowded wait for Mother's Day pick-up orders

OAK LAWN, Ill. (WLS) -- A suburban Red Lobster restaurant is apologizing after a Mother's Day debacle.

Customers were unable to observe social distancing as they found themselves inside a crowded restaurant, waiting long periods of time for their orders.

"We're getting another call for Red Lobster for a lot of people there. It's going to be the third time they're calling," an emergency dispatcher said.

A customer said dozens of people stood shoulder-to-shoulder to pick up their pre-ordered Mother's Day dinners at Oak Lawn's Red Lobster restaurant on Sunday.

"It was like a normal Mother's Day," customer Leon Paramore said. "I could not believe it. Management didn't come out. Didn't tell everyone, watch your social distancing. They didn't have employees outside, stating this is where you need to stand or anything. Everybody was in a state of confusion as to what they needed to do."

Paramore and his wife decided it wasn't worth the risk, canceled their order and left. But not before calling 911.

In a statement, Red Lobster acknowledged the issue, stating: "...Due to COVID-19 and changes to our operations and staffing, we were not able to keep up with the demand at some of our locations...We apologize that some of our guests experienced long wait times, crowds, and in some cases, did not receive their orders at all....We are working to better understand what occurred and how we can prevent it occurring in the future."

"It's really important to keep distance in all settings, especially as you're going to pick up food," said Dr. Susan Bleasdale, UI Health. "Restaurants do have the responsibility that as people are coming to pick up their food that they have a process to keep people from congregating in close quarters."

Police confirmed they received a handful of calls related to Red Lobster, but said responding officers did not observe any violations taking place.
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