Archive for September 2010

Follow-up: Response from Lawry’s

September 21, 2010

I posted my open letter to Lawry’s Restaurants VIP program last week. I was upset about the way that Melinda and I were addressed (“Mr. and Mrs. Forbes”) in their invitation to us to share our upcoming anniversary at one of their locations.

Here is their response that I received by email today:

Dear Ms. Forbes,

I apologize we did not get back with you sooner. Richard Frank is currently on vacation, and rather than wait until his return, I wanted to respond to your email below.

I’d like to say that we are quite concerned and frankly embarrassed that we have overlooked an issue like this. This is the first time this issue has been brought to my attention and I can certainly understand why it would upset you. We are truly sorry that we put a damper on your special day. These mailings are intended to thank our guests for their loyalty and to bring joy, certainly not anguish. I hope that you will accept our apology.

Now, to fixing the problem. Once I became aware of your concern, I immediately contacted our agency that manages our VIP program and mailings to inquire about what could be done to rectify the issue. Of course, it seems nothing is ever easy as the systems that are in place do not allow for multiple last names to be addressed on these mailings. What would seem like a simple fix is actually very complicated and will take revamping the entire system. That said, I think we have a solution that will allow us to have a more general way of addressing our guest (i.e. “The Forbes” or “Forbes Family”) rather than “Mr. & Mrs.”. This would have to be done for all addressee’s as that is a requirement of this specific system. While not a perfect solution, we hope that it will at least help in the short term while we work on a longer term fix. We are planning a revamp of the VIP Rewards program in 2011 and my hope is that we can find a more appropriate and permanent solution at that time.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. Feedback like this really does help us continue to improve our VIP Rewards program to meet our guests’ needs.

If you choose to celebrate with us in the future, please let me know as we would like to make it up to you in some way.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Kind regards,

Rich Cope Director of Marketing Lawry’s Restaurants, Inc.
(626) 440-5272 ext. 55
(626) 440-5232 fax

—–Original Message—–

From: Allan Guarino
Sent: Monday, September 20, 2010 1:29 PM
To: Rich Cope
Subject: FW: Lawry’s Contact Us


This message came through the contact us page on the website. Thanks.


– – – – – – – – – –

I appreciate the way that they worded this response. I knew the solution wasn’t easy, since I worked in an IT capacity for some time, but just because it can’t be done today is no reason to say that it can’t be done. I’ll be keeping my eye on them to make sure that they live up to their promise. I think that since he said that they are “concerned and frankly embarrassed,” they will make it happen.

We’ll certainly go back now, and we will contact them about “mak[ing] it up to us in some way”!


Open letter to Lawry’s Restaurants:

September 16, 2010

Richard R. Frank
President and CEO
Lawry’s Restaurants

Mr. Frank:

We are happy to be Lawry’s VIP members; however, as a legally-married same-gender couple, we weren’t happy to receive our anniversary coupon and see it addressed to “Mr. & Mrs. Forbes.” When we filled out our application, it had spaces for both of our names, and we filled it out that way.

Anniversaries are special times, and this misgendering and lack of recognition makes it less likely that we would spend our special day with you at one of your restaurants.

By the way, this not only insults us, but it also insults the gay servers who have waited on us when we’ve dined with you.

The time for silence by LGBT people is past, and it’s time for you to recognize that — even in something as “simple” as this.

Sonnie Swenston and Melinda Forbes