Fact Check: These Soldiers Were NOT Banned From Restaurant Over 'Safe Space' Claim

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: These Soldiers Were NOT Banned From Restaurant Over 'Safe Space' Claim Mishmash

Is a story about a restaurant banning these pictured veterans to establish a "safe space" authentic? No, that's not true: The article uses completely fabricated details and is illustrated with an assortment of photographs taken from various real stories that are not related to the claims in the article.

The claim appeared as an article (archived here) where it was published by Top 5 on March 6, 2023, under the title "SOLDIERS BANNED FROM RESTAURANT OVER 'SAFE SPACE' GET THE LAST LAUGH." It opened:

Years of their lives were dedicated to serving their country, and they did an exceptional job. They were expecting a hero's welcome for all of their hard work but little did they know, they would be treated with everything but respect.

This is what the article looked like at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2023-06-23 at 10.31.03 AM.png

(Source: Top 5 website screenshots taken on Fri Jun 23 14:12:34 2023 UTC)

The article claims that a group of soldiers were customers at the Lord of the Sea restaurant in Delaware where they encountered a hostile staff who kicked them out for having a service dog that belonged to a retiring Air Force captain. A Google search for a Lord of the Sea restaurant in Delaware does not yield any results.

The images used to illustrate the story are on the internet, but attached to other, authentic news stories. The real caption with the top image of a group of soldiers wearing face masks is "Transport Isolation System mission team, composed of service members from six units across the United States, pose for a group photo in a C-17 Globemaster III at Dover Air Force Base, Del., May 5, 2020," according to 315th Airlift Wing, an official U.S. government website.

The second image of a man shaking the hand of one soldier in a group at a fast food restaurant is from 2019. The TODAY Show reported that a man at a Chick-fil-A restaurant paid for the soldiers' meals as a tribute to his brother, who was in the military and died from suicide. The family of the man in the image posted it to Facebook:

The third image in the story of four soldiers sitting at a table eating is from 2010. It shows them eating Thanksgiving dinner while deployed, as posted on the National Guard website.

Some details in the claim, including that the dog was a white Great Dane with black spots, appear to be copied from a 2017 story about a woman who was caught on video ranting about a soldier's dog in a restaurant, as CBS News reported here. The restaurant was Kathy's Crab House & Family Restaurant, not Lord of the Seas. A photograph at the end of the Top 5 story shows Kathy's Crab House with the WDEL news station logo on the bottom right side. This photograph was posted on the news station's website in 2017.

The Top 5 fake article claims, "It wasn't long before the manager, Stacy Hill, a stern looking blonde woman appeared at the group's table. She began asking about Rover."

In actuality, the woman in the picture was caught on video in 2021 harassing Black soldiers at an IHOP, as the New York Post reported at the time.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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