UPDATED 04/18/11 5:25 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — An Applebee’s in the Detroit suburb of Madison Heights, Mich., made headlines after a 15-month-old boy was mistakenly served margarita mix and alcohol in his sippy cup instead of apple juice.
An Olive Garden in Lakeland, Fla., also made headlines recently for serving a 2-year-old alcoholic sangria rather than orange juice.
Now, a Far South Side mother says her child was served alcohol at a Chicago Chili’s Restaurant.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Tyree Davis said she was having dinner with her daughter at a Chili’s at 1750 W. 119th St. in the Morgan Park neighborhood around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, when her daughter’s chocolate shake got swapped with a mudslide alcoholic beverage, which contains vodka.
Davis said her daughter, Brooklynn Morris, 4, was later diagnosed with an alcohol overdose.
The two drinks look similar, and both contain chocolcate. Davis later took a picture of them side-by-side with her cell phone camera.
The restaurant chain released a statement giving a different account about how the drinks were served.
But Brooklynn drank from the cocktail three or four times, and her mother said the little girl noticed something wasn’t right.
“Brooklynn said, ‘I don’t like it,’ and she said, ‘You don’t like it? Why? Let me taste it,’” Davis said, “and when I tasted it – alcohol. I knew immediately it was alcohol.”
Davis said she tried it herself, and that is when she realized it was an alcoholic drink.
The server said perhaps the drinks had been swapped.
“That’s when I saw the waitress approaching me with the chocolate shake,” Davis said. “How can you make that mistake? And then the manager said they were sitting on the bar side-by-side – the cholocate shake and the mudslide.”
Davis said she called police, who responded to the restaurant and told her to take her daughter to the emergency room, because the girl was dozing off.
“While we were at the hospital, they said that her chest was tight. They called respiratory; they came down and gave her a breathing treatment. Since we’ve been home, she did vomit,” Davis said.
A doctor at Metro South Medical Center in Blue Island diagnosed Brooklynn with alcohol ingestion overdose.
“I’m very upset because it could happen to anyone,” Davis said. “And if you don’t pay close attention, you wouldn’t notice, because it looks so much like a chocolate shake.”
She said the mix-up is particularly upsetting given that similar incidents have been in the headline recently.
“I don’t want it to ever happen again … to any child, because I know this just happened last week to someone, and I heard about it, and it’s crazy that it just happened to us yesterday,” Davis said.
“You know, they need to be more, I don’t know, aware of what they’re doing. I know you’re busy, I know things are going on. I know it’s crowded, and it was crowded. But you served my child an alcoholic beverage,” she continued. “That’s not good.”
Davis said she was told by a manager Sunday night that someone would be calling her within 24 hours, but she said she has not heard back from anyone either.
The specific Chili’s restaurant where the incident happened referred all calls to media representatives at the regional company office.
The following was sent in response from ERJ Dining, the franchisee that owns the Chili’s where the incident happened:
At ERJ Dining, the health and safety of our guests is always our top priority. Yesterday evening, upon being notified of this incident, our local management team reached out to and spoke with Ms. Davis.
• Our managers, bartenders and servers all receive alcohol awareness training, and we hold them accountable for adhering to our policies and procedures. We take the responsibility to serve alcohol to our guests very seriously and, as such, we have checks and balances in place as far as containers in which we serve alcoholic and kids’ drinks. We’ll immediately be re-emphasizing our policies and procedures to our team members.
• We take claims such as this one seriously and we have begun a formal and thorough investigation.
• Initial findings in our investigation reveal conflicting details of how this story is being reported and what occurred in our restaurant. The drink in question was served to an adult, in glass barware, not to a child or in a kids’ cup.
• To our knowledge, Ms. Davis and her daughter ordered a kids’ drink (red fruit punch) and a chocolate shake. The fruit punch beverage was served to Brooklynn in a plastic kid cup with a lid and straw. The beverage Ms. Davis received was served in glass barware.
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