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Combat Vet With Service Dog Denied by Restaurant Gets Free Meal After Facebook Post

Buffalo Wild Wings extends complimentary 'thank you' to Marine after sushi restaurant pushes back at service dog.

Corey Houghtaling, center, with service dog Atticus and staff members at Buffalo Wild Wings in Parsippany. Photo Courtesy Buffalo Wild Wings
Corey Houghtaling, center, with service dog Atticus and staff members at Buffalo Wild Wings in Parsippany. Photo Courtesy Buffalo Wild Wings

After two tours of duty in the Middle East as a Marine, Corey Houghtaling now requires a service dog to help him navigate daily tasks.

Houghtaling and his girlfriend, Jenna Williams, recently went out to eat at Wok N’ Sushi on Route 23 in Franklin. What was supposed to be a nice dinner turned into an anxiety attack for the veteran and a painful experience.

Houghtaling, with service dog Atticus, says he was refused service at the restaurant because he was accompanied by the animal. In a Facebook post, Houghtaling said, “I felt like a Vietnam veteran coming back from the war because of the way I was refused. When I was refused seating in the restaurant I proceeded to call 911 to get ahold of the franklin police department. I began to have a serious anxiety attack during this time from my issues overseas which is exactly one Of the reasons why I have my service dog Atticus.”

Hougtaling’s post went on to explain the police helped calm him down, but the restaurant tried segregating the couple and dog from the rest of the dining room in a downstairs dining area where no one else was eating.

The veteran went on to say in the post, “I just want this to be known to the public how disgusted and embarrassed I was as a disabled veteran To be treated this way in the same country that I fought to defend our freedom…”

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal must be permitted to accompany an individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.

Courtney Tofanelli is a manager at Buffalo Wild Wings in Parsippany. She also peruses Facebook from time to time, and came across Houghtaling’s post. It was then and there the restaurant manager knew something had to be done.

So Tofenalli contacted Houghtaling and Williams and requested they come in – with Atticus – for a full service, complimentary meal at the Buffalo Wild Wings. The trio did just that, and enjoyed a special meal at the restaurant, just like the rest of the customers that day. 

Jamie Adair July 17, 2014 at 06:21 AM
If that place went out of business today that wouldn't be fast enough for me. Thank you for your service to our country and even if it was for non-thinking idiots like them they aren't the whole of this country..
JVC July 20, 2014 at 08:15 AM
Not to mention Atticus is probably cleaner than their kitchen.
Mara Comitas July 20, 2014 at 09:43 AM
Kudos to all at Buffalo Wild Wings. Next time I pass through Parsippany, I will be sure to stop for lunch.
Scott July 20, 2014 at 01:38 PM
You can file an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint alleging disability discrimination against a State or local government or a public accommodation (including, for example, a restaurant, doctor's office, retail store, hotel, etc.) by mail, fax, or email. To file an ADA complaint by mail: US Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section – 1425 NYAV Washington, D.C. 20530 To file an ADA complaint by fax: (202) 307-1197 To file a complaint by email: ADA.complaint@usdoj.gov Please keep a copy of your complaint and the original documents for your own records.
Dame Bridgid July 21, 2014 at 01:05 PM
Bravo! That Buffalo Wild Wings' manager and staff have proved just what high class people they are! They will not regret their compassionate treatment of a disabled veteran. Wok N Sushi of Franklin should be fined for their ADA violation. All former and active military members should boycott that low class restaurant. My spouse is retired from the military and a life member of DAV, we will certainly spread the word of this disgrace far and wide!

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