Florida American Legion motorcycle rider, veteran claims he was discriminated against by restaurant

Restaurant says it's a misunderstanding

LANTANA, Fla. -- - Bikers all across South Florida are threatening to boycott and protest the Old Key Lime House after an American Legion rider said he was discriminated against for riding a motorcycle and wearing patches that proclaim his military service.

Robert Thompson of Pompano Beach said he was at the Old Key Lime House on Saturday and was told to removed his leather vest. A manager told him they do not allow “gangs or colors” at the restaurant.

Thompson did not understand since the patches on his vest are affiliated with his service overseas in Iraq in the Navy. The patch on the back of the vest proclaimed his affiliation with American Legion Post 180.

“You don’t see anything that’s derogatory. You don’t see anything that’s intimidating. All it is, is just a bunch of bright colors. That’s like if I bedazzled my shirt,” said Thompson.

When Thompson pushed the issue with the manager, he was reportedly told “his kind” was not welcome at the Old Key Lime House.

“He goes, 'we don’t want you here, we don’t like what you stand for.' I looked at him and just went, ‘Wow,’” said Thompson.

Days after the incident, hundreds of veterans and bikers began sharing what happened through social media.

A Facebook page was even created to boycott and protest the Old Key Lime House.

Fearing backlash, management at the restaurant suspended the employee who made the comments.

“He shouldn’t have been out there speaking. We apologize for that. We welcome them,” said manager Katherine Kenyon.

Kenyon said the “no colors or gangs” policy should not have been applied. She said the restaurant welcomes bikers and veterans.

Both the owner of the Old Key Lime House and his daughter both served in the military.

“We’ve grouped together and we’ve all spoke about this and we’re just going to do our best to move forward,” said Kenyon.

The restaurant management hopes what happened is a teachable moment for her employees.

Thompson said he did not speak out to cause controversy but to stop discrimination, no matter what someone looks like, from happening again anywhere.

“Just because we had a couple bad seeds or you had an incident that, you can’t put us all together,” said Thompson.

The owner of the Old Key Lime House said he plans to meet with Thompson to discuss the matter and create something positive out of what he calls a “terrible misunderstanding.”