Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association members refused service over combat vests

KCEN news reporter Emani Payne talked to the biker group and a Richard Rawling's Garage spokesperson about the incident.

HARKER HEIGHTS - Members from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association went out to eat at Richard Rawling's Garage over the weekend after participating in a funeral service -- or so they thought. 

Upon arrival to the Harker Heights restaurant, the manager allegedly turned them away. The veteran biker group stated the manager would not serve them until they took off their combat vet vests. 

"We walked in and the manager said we couldn't wear out vests, so we decided to leave," Joe "Thumbs" Lipp, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association 23-10, said. 

Instead of taking off their vests, the bikers left because they say the vests are much more than just a piece of clothing.

"It's a matter of pride of who we are, what we are, where we've been, what we represent." says Lipp.

After the biker group left, word of their experience went viral on social media. 

"The feedback on all sides on the discussion has been everything from 'whiny veterans expecting special treatment' to 'people speaking out saying they denied service to veterans' to people saying just all ranges of things," Lipp said. 

Channel 6 news reached out to Richard Rawling's Garage, who had this to say about the incident: 

We have a dress code posted at the restaurant that requires that groups do not wear their MC colors in the restaurant. This is simply a safety and security decision.

-Richard Rawling's Spokesperson

Some of the bikers said they don't want any special treatment and realize incidents such as the Twin Peaks biker gang shootout in Waco play a role into tight policies at eating establishments -- but added the organization does a lot of good in the community. 

"To simply say that everyone that's on a motorcycle is an outlaw or everybody that's on a motorcycle is going to get into a fight is something that we should be able to get past," Lipp said. 

Staff at Richard Rawling's Garage said they support men and women in uniform, and the policy has been around since the restaurant opened last year. 

However, some bikers said they've worn their vest in the restaurant before with no issue.

When asked if the organization would eat at the garage in the future, they told Channel 6 News "probably not." 

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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