Dairy Queen has ended its corporate franchise agreement with a Zion store owner amid fallout from a racially charged dispute over an order that sparked calls for a boycott of the fast-food restaurant chain known for its Blizzard frozen desserts.
On Friday, the terms of the franchise agreement termination were agreed to and are effective immediately, said Dairy Queen spokesman Dean Peters. The restaurant will remain closed and will not reopen as a Dairy Queen unless ownership changes at that location, Peters said.
“The recent actions of this franchisee are inexcusable, reprehensible, unacceptable and do not represent the values of the Dairy Queen family, our employees, fans and other independent franchises around the world,” the corporate statement said. “We expect our franchisees and their employees to treat every single person who walks through their doors with the utmost dignity and respect. Nothing less is acceptable.”
Dairy Queen’s announcement came just hours after store owner James Crichton of Lake Villa, who is white, apologized and asked for forgiveness after an incident in which he was accused of hurling racial slurs at a biracial woman in front of her young children after she complained about her order.
“I take full responsibility of my actions,” Crichton said in a statement Peters released earlier Friday. “As the owner of this restaurant, I should be a model for others. My actions were inexcusable and unacceptable.”
Crichton did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday night after Dairy Queen’s announcement to terminate the franchise agreement.
Clyde McLemore, head of the Lake County Black Lives Matter, said his group turned plans to hold a protest outside the store Saturday into a “celebration” of its closure.
“This satisfies Black Lives Matter,” McLemore said.
Deianeira Ford, 21, of Tinley Park, said the incident happened Wednesday after the store on 21st Street west of Sheridan Road in Zion mishandled her order and she asked for a refund.
On Facebook, Ford wrote that at one point her daughter asked what the racial slur meant. Her post also said that when she asked the owner his name, he first said it was “‘Bill Clinton’ and then said, ‘Better yet, I’m Donald Trump,’ and told me to go back where I came from.”
Her story was subsequently backed in a report filed by a Zion police officer who responded to a 911 call from Ford. In that report released Thursday, the officer wrote that the store owner “proudly admitted” to using a racial slur, but the restaurant owner later denied saying anything racial when the same officer returned later the same day in response to a separate call.
Ford, who recently worked as a dispatcher at the south suburban Harvey police department and is a full-time college student, said the racial slurs hurled at her and her children were hurtful. Ford said she and her children are relocating to Zion.
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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, Frank S. Abderholden