Photo from Wikimedia Commons

What was the Accusation?

In 2011, a server at a Madison Heights, Michigan Applebee’s accidentally served 15-month-old toddler, Dominic Wilson Jr., an apple juice that was spiked with alcohol.  The parents of the toddler called local police when they noticed that their son was saying “hi” and “bye” to the walls in the restaurant and laying his head on the table.  The father tasted the beverage, which was in an apple juice cup, and noticed that it definitely was some type of alcohol concoction.  They took their son to the hospital where they claimed, although disputed on Applebee’s official statement on its website, that the toddler’s blood alcohol content was 0.10 and that doctors told them their son would have died if he had finished the juice.  In order to repair the damage to its brand, Applebees issued a formal apology to the parents and changed its beverage policy in order to ensure that apple juice would be served from a single container while at the table.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Mortification, Corrective Action, Minimization




We want to express how thankful we are that the child involved in the incident at our restaurant in Madison Heights, MI on April 8, was not seriously injured as a result of accidentally receiving the wrong beverage. We also want to apologize to his parents, for the stress and worry this caused them. Although our efforts to speak with the child’s parents have been unsuccessful, we extend our personal apologies.

After receiving the Madison Heights Police report this afternoon, we know that the child was served a trace amount of alcohol (per the MHPD report published 4/11/11, “the officer checked the drink with his PBT and it registered a .014”) and are trying to get more details about this information. Furthermore, as per the police report, EMTs checked the child at the scene and he was released. As we work to gather all of the facts related to this incident, including conducting our own investigation with our restaurant staff, we are also moving forward with pro-active actions to help prevent a reoccurrence:

1) We are changing the way we serve apple juice to our young guests. We will switch to pouring apple juice only from single-serve containers served at the table. We have already started communicating this new policy within our system and it will be in-place this week.

2) We will retrain all servers on our beverage pouring policy, emphasizing that non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages must be stored in completely separate and identified containers. This retraining will begin immediately.

We recognize our responsibility to constantly assess our safety policies and procedures to ensure they are rigorous and consistently followed. We believe today’s strong actions make a statement to our guests of all ages around our commitment to provide a safe and enjoyable dining experience.


Applebee’s alcohol mistake leads to retraining for all servers (2011, April 11). Huffington Post. Retrieved from:

Applebee’s issues media statement (2011, April 11). Retrieved from:

Battaglia, T. S. (2011, April 13).  Applebee’s changes policies after child served alcohol. USA Today. Retrieved from:

Caulfield, P. (2011, April 14). Parents of boy who was served booze at Applebee’s now suing. New York Daily News. Retrieved from:

Remizowski, L. (2011, April 11).  In mixup, toddler served alcohol at Applebee’s restaurant, police say. CNN. Retrieved from: