April 11th, 2011
01:25 PM ET
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A 15-month-old was hospitalized after a behind-the-bar mix-up at a Michigan Applebee's restaurant that left the toddler sipping alcohol instead of apple juice.

Police were called to the Madison Heights restaurant on Friday evening after the parents of Dominic Wilson Jr. noticed their son acting strange during a family dinner.

"He was saying 'hi' and 'bye' to the walls," said Wilson's mother, Taylor Dill-Reese, 18. "He laid his head down like he was sleepy then woke up and got really hyper."

Read In mixup, toddler served alcohol at Applebee's restaurant, police say

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soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. jone terry

    Well, just wanted to weigh in here as I work with Applebee’s corporate

    July 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  2. Dawn

    As a sever who has worked at a few different establishments, i should point out that is very common among severs to fill a kiddie cup with a little something to "take the edge off" to get through the shift. To me it sounds like someone grabbed the wrong sippy cup. Yes, it is wrong and against most company policies to drink on the job, but it still happens, a LOT. I am saddened by this as a mother, but as a server, I am not surprised.

    April 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  3. Lisa

    To those wondering how alcohol gets in a sippy cup: I know of servers who will pour wine in a sippy cup and pretend like its cranberry juice. Drinks are free for kids, so all they have to do is ring up a cranberry juice, pick up the cranberry juice from the bar, and pour the wine in on the sly. Since all kid's drinks come from the bar, no one really ever expects anything. If the bartender sees it, they'll assume its the juice the just poured and think nothing of it.

    April 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  4. CeCe

    Incidents like this should make you seriously consider what is happening with your drinks and food (not just the kid’s). On a recent visit to Appelbee's my skinny margarita came tainted with something... from the smell and my days of working in restaurants, it was probably sanitizing fluid. When I complained, the manager argued that margarita salt has a different smell than regular salt... as if I'd never had a margarita before! For those of you who want to blame the parents... don't be so ridiculous! When the server brings the cute little kid's cup with the red lid and straw, most people would expect what is in the sealed container to be child safe! However, I think most parents are probably unaware that most juice orders in any restaurant are filled with bar mixers and are often not the juice you would give a child at home…

    April 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  5. Rich

    Maybe they should change their name to Applebuzz...

    April 12, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  6. work for wine

    whole thing sound somewhat fishy to me, just doesn't ring true. i wonder what will come out when all is said and done.....

    April 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  7. Dimitri Snowden

    Everyone should simply be responsible. Parents, check your child's beverage before they drink. There are always risks when you eat out, and if the restaurant is busy, the risk factor for any kind of "slip-up" increases.

    April 12, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  8. abrooks

    Hi all, just wanted to weigh in here as I work with Applebee’s corporate. We’re reading all of your comments and want to assure you that we are taking measures to give our guests a safer and more enjoyable dining experience, starting with changes to the way we serve beverages. We’re truly sorry for the worry this has caused the child’s parents and all of you. Our official statement with more details can be found here: http://bit.ly/hqVtye.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  9. Anthony

    This kid was just getting an early start on college drinking. And now because of this his college will be paid for by Applebees. Can you say lawsuit?

    April 12, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  10. Steve C

    I was an Applebee's bartender for two years, an assistant manager for two years, and a general manager for seven years. I could swear I've heard this story before years ago as an urban legend. I would strongly suggest, given the age of the parents, that somone does some checking and maybe even a lie detector test. Applebee's cannot publically defend themselves because of the emotion factor to this story-they are going to be the bad guy automatically. Given the this economy, the age of the parents, and the demographic depression of the particular region where this happened, I would not be surprised if the parents (maybe in cahoots with the employee) gave a little alcohol to the baby as a desperate attempt to generate a cash settlement. Please somebody check this out. If this is legit, Applebee's should control their processes and isolate alcohol from kid cups the same way they would allergenic food in the kitchen (if they do).

    April 11, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • ed

      I'm with you on this... the resteraunt would not have served the drink in a sippy cup; the last time my niece asked for apple juice it came in a styrofoam cup with a lid. Someone would have to have some very stopped up sunuses to mistake apple juice for margarita mix.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • CeCe

      You've heard the story before because it has happened so many times...

      April 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  11. Will

    Not the first time it's happened, I knew I'd heard this story before:
    Published: 6/15/2007

    April 11, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  12. jj

    There needs to be a thorough investigation of the incident, and I am sure there will be. There needs to be evidence, not just accusations or heresay that may or may not be justified.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  13. Anna

    Why is it the parents' fault that the restaurant screwed up? Applebee's is a family restaurant; who would check every juice their kid was handed just in case they accidentally put booze in it? It is the restaurant's fault clearly.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  14. RichardHead

    I am just glad that breast milk nor ice cream was involved in this incident.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  15. The Witty One

    "saying hi and bye to the walls"

    HA! I've totally been there...wait...what?! 15 months?

    April 11, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Jif & The Choosy Mothers


      April 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  16. wendy

    what parent allows their kid to drink at a restaurant without first checking the contents of the cup?? and i think if a parent were a bit more OBSERVANT of their child's behaviours it wouldnt take full on drunk talk for them to take note of the error. errors all around...but i shall put most of it on the parent.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • AleeD@wendy

      a) not being a parent myself
      b) we eat out alot
      c) having observed how adults and how they interact with their children

      I see MANY parents who have no problem letting their children drink from whatever kiddie cup the server brings on their tray. Only the most paranoid parents would check their child's beverage on spec. If what SinSis suspects is, in fact what happened, then these parents definitely AREN'T very observant and the fault does partially lie with the parents.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
      • wendy

        i dont have kids either...but i've been a server, and when you've got kids' drinks coming from the bar as in applebees checking before handing a kid a drink is best. especially when the clear plastic kiddie cup is the muddy yellow of margarita color vs the clear orangey brown of apple juice. :) i've been handed pop from the bar instead of milk before...a quick eyeballing of the cup solves many problems before they start.

        April 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
      • Chartreux

        SisSis is paranoid. That's not what happened.

        What is a skinny margarita?

        April 16, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • kelly

      i do not see how you blame the parents for what happened to their baby! first of all the waitress should of made sure that was what it was. im pretty sure while she was pouring the drink at the bar for the baby she could smell it. oh and if the bottle is not labled apple juice why in the hell would the waiter still give it out!!!! yes it may have been truly an accident but to blame the parents and not any blame on the waiter is beyond stupid. i swear where is america coming to these days

      April 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • kelly

      i do not see how you blame the parents for what happened to their baby! first of all the waitress should of made sure that was what it was. im pretty sure while she was pouring the drink at the bar for the baby she could smell it. oh and if the bottle is not labled apple juice why in the hell would the waiter still give it out!!!! yes it may have been truly an accident but to blame the parents and not any blame on the waiter is beyond stupid. i swear where is america coming to these days!

      April 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
      • CeCe

        You can't really fault the waitress... most juice orders are bar orders and are filled by the bartender, not the waitress. The only drinks the waitress fills are normally filled at the drink satations. That would be soft drinks, water and tea.

        April 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Chartreux

      My son is autistic and I've been as vigilant as a parent needs to be. He has always told me when his drink tastes odd, by his behaviour or actions. We've been many times to Applebees and this has never happened to us. He's 23 years old now.

      If he was still of an age to drink apple juice I'd check it in Applebees every time, but I'd trust other restaurants. If I were that paranoid about my child's drinks, I'd stay at home.

      April 16, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  17. Sinister Sister (now)

    Whew! Can't wait to see how this fuque-up happened. Hope the little guy doesn't suffer any permanent brain damage.

    Wait! Doesn't Applebee's serve children their drinks in special kiddies cups? If so, shouldn't that have been a red flag to the doofus mixing the drink? Also, the article said the mis-labeled container contained margarita mix. Isn't margarita mix non-alcoholic? If the container said "Apple juice" you wouldn't mix tequila with that (nast!). So I'm thinkin' .....

    .... maybe this child wasn't behaving the way the "establishment" thought was appropriate and tried to get the child drunk to calm him down (read "knock him out").

    If so, that's a criminal offense and I hope the bartender and the management staff on duty all get tossed in jail!

    Questions, questions.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Jdizz

      No doubt. Fail on everyone's part, including the parents.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
      • Chartreux


        April 16, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Suzanne Moore

      Ridiculous children are expected to act like children and to think someone could give a baby alcohol for whatever reason is unheard of. I pray no permanent damage has been done. Talk to your attorney.

      April 12, 2011 at 6:14 am |
    • Chartreux

      This article is incomplete. There was more information available yesterday. Here is some of what's lacking:

      The margarita mix + alcohol was in the apple juice container in the bar, where all juice orders are filled in these restaurants. It was labeled 'apple juice.' The server read the label, poured the drink and served it to the toddler in a closed container with a straw and a lid. The parents noticed something wrong and checked the drink before the boy consumed all of it. When they found it contained alcohol, the server then checked the apple juice container in the bar and found it didn't contain apple juice, but *margarita mix + alcohol.* The parents had already dialed 911 by then, smart move.

      The paramedics found the child's BAL (blood alcohol level) to be below the adult legal limit for driving. Nevertheless, the young parents were bright enough to take their son to the hospital where he was found to have a higher BAL. BAL increases over time until it peaks, then it decreases as alcohol is metabolised. No one knows what the safe limit is for a child this small. One can only hope no permanent brain damage was done to this toddler.

      Alcohol is a poison if consumed in mass quantities. There is no antidote and no one knows the safe BAL for a 15-month-old child. Applebee's has made this error more than once in more than one location. That qualifies as gross negligence and they should and will pay for this foolishness.

      Alcohol should never be stored in containers that hold liquids that might be served to children. It's common sense and general knowledge and Applebees has failed to exercise due care in this area. Thus, the parents of all the children who have been served alcohol should band together and file a class action suit against them so they never ever do this again.

      A child could die from this mistake. It's dumb luck none has so far. Evidently, Applebees must be punished publicly in order for them to change their dangerous ways, just as McDonald's was in relation to their coffee temperature. McDonald's was advised over and over again that their coffee was served at too hot a temperature and they ignored the information until Stella Liebeck received 3rd degree burns from her 49 cent cup of coffee and sued them for endangering her. She spent two years recovering from the burns on her groin.

      This may be a similar case...but one does hope the child doesn't pay with brain damage.

      April 16, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  18. JBJingles

    Usually toddlers drink from sippy cups or those special cups they serve in the restuarant for kids. Hard to believe the drink came from the bar!??

    April 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
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