AVON LAKE, Ohio–A Lorain County father of two is outraged after he said a popular restaurant served his nine-year-old son alcohol.
The father, who asked FOX 8 to conceal his son’s identity, said the child went through an “atrocity” last Thursday at the Crocker Park Cheesecake Factory, where the boy’s mom took him to celebrate his 4th grade graduation.
The father told FOX 8 that the child’s mom ordered him a non-alcoholic pina colada.
“Halfway through the meal, (my son) started feeling sick,” the father told FOX 8, “Started to complain about his head and his tummy, (wanting) to throw up and so forth. So (his mom said) let me take me a look at this drink. She started to take a look and when she smelled it, it had a smell of rum all over it.”
The father told reporter Autumn Ziemba the whole ordeal felt like an out-of-body experience.
He said his ex-wife immediately called him. When he got to the restaurant, emergency response crews were already there.
“He could not stand so I had to carry him to the car. Got to the car and took off for the ER,” the father said. “And he’s telling me, ‘Daddy why is the room turning? Can you do something about it?’ All I can do is hold him and I feel very helpless.”
The father said his son spent the night in the emergency room while he received fluids and medication.
Alethea Rowe, the senior director of public relations and brand management for The Cheesecake Factory, issued the following statement Tuesday evening:
“It is always our intention to serve our food and drinks accurately and are deeply sorry for this unfortunate mix up. We are conducting an investigation to assess exactly what happened and to ensure that it does not occur again. We are thankful to hear that our guests’ son is doing okay and has returned to school.”
Westlake police did respond to the incident, but said no charges have been filed against the restaurant because of the lack of criminal intent.
But that doesn’t mean The Cheesecake Factory is out of the woods.
“The law looks at the organization as a whole. So just because the person didn’t mean to put an alcoholic beverage in front of a young child, does not exonerate them from the civil liability,” explained Cleveland attorney, John Neal.
Neal works on liquor compliance law and told FOX 8, in this case, the jurisdiction falls under the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
“Just because the police don’t prosecute does not mean ODPS is going to look away,” Neal said.
The boy’s father said he feels no one should turn a blind eye to his son’s traumatic experience.
“I’m not questioning the intent. I’m looking at the results. A young boy life’s has been stripped of his innocence, and my son is at risk now.”