Woman Reportedly Takes Group of Homeless People to Dinner at Taco Bell and Gets Kicked Out
A nursing student from Louisville, Kentucky, alleged that a local Taco Bell kicked her out of the restaurant while she was trying to buy dinner for a group of 20 homeless people.
Shannon Gridley, 44, was acting on a bit of a whim when she invited a group of homeless people to join her for dinner, telling the Courier-Journal that she had been inspired by a biography of Eddie Murphy, who frequently took strangers less fortunate than himself out for a meal.
By the time she arrived at Taco Bell, Gridley had rounded up a group of about 20 hungry, homeless people ranging in age from teenagers to mid-60s.
But from the moment Gridley and her group stepped into the Taco Bell, she said they were met with suspicion.
Gridley quickly tried to assure the staff that she would be paying for everybody’s order.
“I held up my credit card and said, ‘All these people are going to order everything they want, and I’m paying for it,'” Gridley said.
“I said, ‘Stop. Nobody’s ordering anything until they do.”
– Shannon Gridley, College Student from Louisville Kentucky
An emotional story out of Kentucky about what one woman encountered trying to help individuals experiencing homelessness. https://t.co/3FExU0dgRE via @usatoday
— Haven for Hope (@HavenForHope) September 13, 2019
While the staff did begin taking orders, Gridley said they did not want her group settling down in the dining area to enjoy the meal, and did not allow them to use the bathrooms.
One employee reportedly ordered another employee to bag everything up to go, indicating the group was not wanted in the lobby.
“A cashier comes out and says, ‘if you got your food you have to leave,’ and I said, ‘we can’t sit down?'” Gridley told WHAS-TV.
When one of the teen girls tried to use the bathroom, she reportedly found the door locked and the employees unwilling to open it for her. The bathrooms had already been cleaned for the night, the employees tried to explain, even though the restaurant was not scheduled to close for another 90 minutes.
“It is dehumanizing,” Gridley said. “They wouldn’t even let them in the bathroom to wash their hands before they eat.”
Gridley paid $77.05 for part of the group’s order after the cashier told her they would not ring up any more orders until they were confident that someone would be paying.
After the first payment, Gridley paid for two more group orders, amounting to $11.64 and $11.12, according to the Courier-Journal.
A well-dressed man waiting in line offered Gridley a $10 dollar bill as a way to help, recognizing her kind gesture. The Taco Bell staff noticed the well-dressed man, too, and offered to take his order before finishing up the orders from her group of 20.
Stunned, Gridley tried to insist that her group be treated fairly.
“I said, ‘Stop. Nobody’s ordering anything until they do,'” Gridley said.
That seemed to be the last straw for the Taco Bell staff, as Gridley said they promptly announced that the lobby was now officially closed, more than an hour before the store’s posted closing time.
“It was purely because they’re homeless that they were being discriminated against,” Gridley told WHAS.
A Taco Bell employee who asked to remain anonymous did confirm Gridley’s story, according to the Courier-Journal.
The employee said the store maintains a strict policy of not allowing homeless people to use their restrooms, and the managers have often vocalized their distaste for “those people.”
Outraged, Gridley is insisting that Taco Bell own up to its mishandling of the situation and change for the better.
“They need more sensitivity training,” Gridley said. “I’m not asking for special treatment, I’m asking for humane treatment.”
In a statement to Fox News, Taco Bell said it was investigating the matter.
“Taco Bell is committed to creating a space that’s welcoming and safe for all people while maintaining an environment free of discrimination or harassment,” the statement read.
“The franchise organization that owns and operates this location is looking into the matter and will be proactively re-training its team members on its policies. Knowing that homelessness is an unfortunate issue in this area especially, the franchisee looks forward to connecting with local organizations to see how they can help and work better together in the future.”
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