Richard Rawlings

Patrons at Richard Rawlings' Garage watch sports and dine inside of the restaurant during its grand opening in September 2016 in Harker Heights.

HARKER HEIGHTS — One restaurant’s decision to bar a combat veterans group from eating there stirred up some controversy online last weekend.

Antonio Estrada is a member of the Central Texas division of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. He and about 15 other members went into Richard Rawlings’ Garage for lunch, and were turned away because of the motorcycle vests they were wearing, according to Estrada’s Facebook post. Though management offered to allow them to dine if they took off their vests, the group declined, and took to the internet to voice its concerns.

“We were told that we could not eat there in less (sic) we took off our vest,” Estrada said in the post. “So that being said, I will no longer do any kind of business with anything owned by Richard Rawling.”

As of noon on Tuesday, Estrada’s post, which was accompanied by a picture of five members posing in front of the restaurant, had been shared 1,400 times. It had 939 reactions and 481 comments.

Joe Lipp, a local member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association who also tried to eat at the restaurant, said the Richard Rawlings’ management was polite and professional when they asked the group to leave.

He was, however, stunned, because he personally had eaten inside the restaurant with his vest on before, though with far fewer members. He said that the group hasn’t had a lot of problems with local establishments that don’t allow motorcycle clubs inside, partially because most members have a running list of restaurants and bars that don’t welcome motorcycle clubs.

“We’re not going to ride and not have our vests on,” Lipp said.

A representative from Richard Rawlings’ Garage declined to comment on that matter. A phone call to the corporate office was not returned.

The restaurant did, however, offer an explanation to TV station KCEN.

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

Richard Rawlings’ Garage opened last summer in the same building that housed Twin Peaks, a chain restaurant that received national headlines on May 17, 2015, when a shooting at the Twin Peaks in Waco left nine people dead and 20 wounded. Police said it was rival biker gangs who were involved in that shootout.

The Twin Peaks in Harker Heights, which closed about four months after the shooting, was owned by Dallas-based company, the Chalak Mitra Group, which also owned the Waco location.

254-501-7552 | sullivan@kdhnews.com

(5) comments

Cen-TexHDRider

Oh lord. So much ignorance in this thread. I am a local motorcycle rider and a member of a club. Someone said something about people peeing on vests (cuts)…you need to watch new TV shows, Sir. That is not reality. So much TV drama relayed on here as if they were truths, and they’re simply not. You also said that all clubs pay money to a “mother club”, and everything else that you implied…again, that is nothing more than myth. You need a new source for your “facts”.

The policy is blindly discriminatory on its face. They ban all cuts so it's ok? Because you think some people wearing cuts are bad, right? LoL Right on. So...based on that logic alone, I recommend that you ban all of Killeen Police Department. They have had several bad officers there throughout the years that have committed both violent and non-violent crimes and gone to jail for them. In the past couple of years one of them was indicted for sexual molestation of children! A cop!! So...they all wear the same uniform...ban them! How about Muslims? Clearly a violent group of people…way more than bikers have ever been. Ban them. How about Soldiers??? Man...Good Ol' Hassan shot up Fort Hood and killed several people. Again....they all wear the same uniform...not to mention young, drunk soldiers account for the majority of the bar fights in both Bell and Coryell county. Ban them!! Sound absurd? It's discriminatory and it's just plain stupid. But I guess if you watched an episode of Sons of Anarchy, you know what the MC world is all about and totally agree with banning us wretched dirt bags. Unbelievable.

Hopefully, it will never be your child that I'm out in the 100-degree sun for all day while raising money to pay for their cancer treatment. Hopefully it's not your child that I'm riding in the cold and rain to raise money for so that they can have some happiness during Christmas time. Hopefully, it's not your Grandfather/mother that I'm riding to the retirement home for because they've been told they have a couple of weeks/months to live and their dying wish is to ride on a motorcycle, or even just sit on one. Either way...I'll still be there but you can keep your judgmental self away from me. I don't need your thanks or appreciation. I promise you, I'm not there for you. So you can continue to be shallow and judgmental, without fact, from a distance. Thanks.

There are well over 50 clubs in this area and a large majority of them, in some way, participate in the few things that I just mentioned, and way more. Richard Rawlings can keep his bland, overpriced food and discriminatory policies. My money is just as green as everyone else’s and spends very well in other establishments.

eyewatchingu

Facts: To wear a patch your club must pay the mother club in the area, that would mean they pay a 1%er club to wear, ride and hold events. Money in the 1% club here in Tx ends up buying, selling and manufacture drugs, brings drugs from cali, and mexico. The money is used to pay off deals with other types of gangs and cartels, this money then is used to buy guns and sell to groups like isis and other terror groups. Think about it like this, even if you are not committing the crime you helped fund it when your clubs pay to wear patches.
Next fact, no man wants his daughter to see a grown woman wearing a property patch, most FATHERS do not think of their little girls no matter how old as property. If a brother can not understand that a woman belongs to or married to another brother with out the word property well then you may want to get a new brother.
Most clubs and biker gangs enjoy peeing on each others vest as a hazing or jumping in thing. So yeah I don't want to eat next to man wearing a vest, more less sit and eat dinner next to a dirty diaper.

So if stores can have a dress code and we have all seen them, no hoodies, no back packs, no more then 2 kids in a store at a time, and its done for the safety of all. Well damn Skippy call me peanut butter I want a dress code in the places I eat it.
Matter of fact Every one that agrees with this make sure you stop by this place and grab some food, and thank them for your watching out for your safety, that is what real brothers and sisters do.

StuckInCT

Owners reserve the right to not serve whomever they want. Case closed. Take off the vest or shut up. If you don't want to be shown the door, think about that next time your gang shoots people.

Cherbear

Seems if the Combat Vet Club wants to blame someone they should speak to the bikers that were involved with the shooting at Waco's Twin Peaks. They are the reason that most of the public thinks of when they see a group of bikers wearing their colors. Bikers coming into a restaurant, especially one that is where the old Twin Peaks operated, people will immediately go back to that day. A lot of them will ask for the check, grab their kids and leave. I am surprised that a legitimate motorcycle club wouldn't understand that.

Heights Teacher

Cherbear, I agree with your statements 100%. If I were eating at any establishment (let alone the one in question), and a huge group of bikers pulled in wearing their version of "Hell's Angels" gang-wear vests, my family and I would leave immediately.

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