Dave & Buster’s apologizes, vows to do better for vets

Victor Murdock, American Legion Riders
Victor Murdock's American Legion Riders vest. (Feb. 27. 2017)


GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The turnaround from villain to good guys in the eyes of local veterans for the Dave & Buster’s restaurant took a meeting and a handshake.

“I would encourage everyone now to visit Dave & Buster’s,” said Grandville post commander Mike Hawes.

The meeting came Friday, less than a week after Victor Murdock and three other members of the post’s Sons of American Legion chapter were told they couldn’t wear their vests inside the Dave & Buster’s on 28th Street in Kentwood.

Victor Murdock, American Legion Riders
Victor Murdock wearing his American Legion Riders vest. (Feb. 27. 2017)

Their vests feature various patches, including a U.S. flag and an eagle. Dave & Buster’s dress code prohibits patches and similar items because the company says they could represent gang symbols.

Officials with the Dallas-based restaurant chain told legion members the gang symbols are not as obvious as one might think.

“Just like a certain ball team’s hat, and stuff like that. So it really makes it hard for these businesses, we understand that,” Hawes said.

But veteran supporters rallied against the chain when word spread about the gaffe, prompting Dave & Buster’s Vice President Ed Forler to get on a plane and come to Grandville Friday.

“This shows a very large company willing to take care of an issue when it’s an issue and move it forward,” said Hawes.

Hawes said company officials apologized, vowing to work with the American Legion to review their dress code policy and educate employees about veterans groups.

In a statement emailed to 24 Hour News 8, a Dave & Buster’s spokesperson reiterated their pledge:

“Dave & Buster’s and The American Legion are both proud to be partnering in efforts to support the Legion’s important work in the community. Based on recent constructive conversations with Legion leadership, Dave & Buster’s is reviewing its dress code policies and working to educate its team members about the Legion’s mission and their programs.”

Ed Forler, Vice President of Operations for Dave & Buster’s, added, “We sincerely apologize if our actions offended members of the American Legion family, active military members, or veterans. Our legion partners have provided valuable feedback that will help us maintain a fun, inclusive environment in which everyone, especially members of the military/veterans, has a great experience. D&B continues to be a strong supporter of the American Legion along with our veterans and military members.”

“Dave & Buster’s is addressing our concerns with its dress code policies and has demonstrated respect for our members and our mission. We look forward to working with them in the future,” stated Mark Sutton, public relations director for the American Legion Department of Michigan.