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Fairbanks restaurant manager quits job after Facebook post flap

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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 11:52 pm

FAIRBANKS — A manager at the local Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza franchise has quit after criticism of the military posted on his Facebook page went viral Tuesday.

Dusty Westbrook posted an item complaining about frequent requests for military discounts, saying it’s “pathetic” they expect a markdown while other professions — such as health care workers, police officers and firefighters — don’t get one.

“I’m sorry YOU signed up for this job you CHOSE to take this filed (sic) YOU picked to work and defend the US I’m sorry you don’t deserve anything,” the post stated.

Westbrook didn’t mention Boston’s in the post, but his Facebook profile listed him as a manager at the restaurant. A screen grab of the post — his Facebook account has since been deleted — went viral among some local Facebook users, being shared more than 300 times by early Wednesday afternoon.

Emails of Westbrook’s post also were sent Tuesday to Boston’s corporate headquarters in Dallas. By Wednesday morning, Westbrook said in an interview with the News-Miner that he had “volunteered to quit” but had not been pressured to do so.

Westbrook said the Facebook post was unrelated to his job at Boston’s and was triggered by something he’d seen on TV after drinking a few beers. He said he was surprised by the immediate response and that he regretted the post and apologized for the sentiment.

“I’m one of those people that rants and raves,” he said. “Realizing the next morning what I’d said, I thought, ‘Oh, crap.’”

Michael Cervantes, the local franchise owner, said he’d received several calls about the issue and had been contacted about the post by corporate officials. He confirmed that Westbrook was no longer affiliated with the restaurant.

A post on the Boston’s Facebook page apologized for Westbrook’s comments and said the company “strongly disagrees” with his opinions on the issue.

“We are deeply sorry that an individual no longer associated with our company made comments online that may have raised any doubts regarding our support for the U.S. Military, as Boston’s has always had the utmost respect and admiration for the men and women serving our country and fighting for our freedom,” the post stated.

Katie Beauchamp, the social media coordinator for Boston’s, said the company had been contacted by numerous people about Westbrook’s post and still was getting complaints Wednesday.

She said Boston’s corporate officials discussed the issue with Cervantes but weren’t involved in any personnel decisions regarding Westbrook. Because the local Boston’s restaurant is a franchise, such decisions are made at the local level, Beauchamp said.

Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518. Follow him on Twitter at @FDNMbusiness.

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