Fact Check

Shady Maple Serviceman Refusal

Were serviceman refused service at the Shady Maple restaurant?

Published Jun 14, 2009

Claim:   A U.S. serviceman was refused service at the Shady Maple restaurant.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, 2005]

Tom and I went out with some friends, the McGarveys, who told us a true, but disturbing story about Shady Maple. You may hear it on the news in the next couple of weeks, but we thought it was important to get it out ahead of time.

About two weeks ago friends of the McGarveys went to take a gentleman, who had just returned from serving our country in Iraq, out to eat at Shady Maple. This gentleman (I apologize for not knowing his name) proudly wore his military uniform to Shady Maple. Shady Maple said they would not serve the man in the military uniform. They said they absolutely will not serve soldiers. These friends were angered and in shock at what was happening. They went through the restauraunt telling other customers what was happening. Most of the customers got up and walked out of the restaurant not finishing their meals.

Being a former employee of Shady, I know that they and the owner of Good's do not believe in war and fighting. We were told this is part of the reason they do not sell the American flag. I suppose that is okay, but I never thought this meant that they would refuse service to a man or woman who has put their life on the line for our country and others.

After all, isn't it because of those that died fighting for our freedom that the owners of both stores are able to believe in what they want to freely??

Tom and I have decided that we will no longer be eating out at the Smorgasbord. We are very saddened at what they have done.

Thank you for reading this.

It has been all over the local talk radio shows in the Reading area for the last two days that a father took both of his sons, who are in the service and were in uniform, to the Shady Maple smorgesborg to eat. Shady Maple refused to serve them because they were in uniform. Apparently, the owners of Shady Maple, due to their religious beliefs, do not believe in military service or war and therefore choose not to render service to those in uniform. The local veteran groups and other concerned citizens are asking every one to not buy anything from Shady Maple. This includes the resturants, the grocery store and anything else that they are involved in. Since a major portion of Shady's business comes from people who travel from the Philadelphia area and other areas, they are asking that you tell as many people as possible about this discrimination. This incident, is not the first time they have refused to serve our Men and Women in uniform.


Origins:   The rise in appreciation of the military in recent years has served to speed along a number of "outrage" e-mail forwards which call for a boycott of a particular restaurant, bar, gas station, or other retail establishment said to have refused service to someone wearing a U.S. armed forces uniform. Previous targets of such outrage include: a

Marathon gas station in Pontiac, Illinois; a Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Crown Point, Indiana; restaurants in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Duluth, Minnesota; and a Shell gas station in Tennessee.

While such tales of wrongs done to those who guard our freedoms do stir the blood, virtually all such reports we have encountered have proved to be either completely fabricated or highly distorted versions of real events. (One exception, however, had to do with a 2004 incident at a convenience store in Fort Worth, Texas.)

In the summer of 2005, Shady Maple Farm Market, a combination grocery store and restaurant near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, became the target of a baseless "shunned serviceman" rumor. According to the story, Shady Maple turned away a serviceman just returned from Iraq who tried to get seated while wearing his uniform. "They said they absolutely will not serve soldiers," said the e-mail, because the owners "do not believe in war and fighting."

That incident never occurred. As to what might prompt folks to believe that it had, many of the restaurant and market's staff are Mennonites, a religion that advocates non-violence. The staffers' beliefs, however, do not affect who Shady Maple will and will not serve, as confirmed by Elwood Martin, the operations manager of Shady Maple:

We never deny anyone an opportunity to eat here. Are you kidding? That's our livelihood, it's our business and we encourage all to come in.

To this day, no one knows who wrote the e-mail or why, but its effects continue to be felt. The slander resurfaces each year around Memorial Day and Veterans Day, leaving Shady Maple to deal with the outrage anew.

Shady Maple was besieged by similar rumors in 1991, during the first Gulf War. At that time, the restaurant came under fire for supposedly refusing to serve customers wearing yellow ribbons in support of the military. That tale was also untrue.

Barbara "shady lain to rest" Mikkelson

Last updated:   21 June 2009


    Burke, Daniel.   "Shady Maple: It's All a Bunch of Nothing."

    Lancaster New Era.   27 July 2005   (p. A1)

    WGAL-TV [Lancaster, PA].   "E-Mail Maligns Local Restaurant."

    26 July 2005.

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