Dierks Whiskey Row updates its tattoo policy to allow neck tattoos after recent backlash

Posted at 10:24 AM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 23:11:50-04

Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row has updated its tattoo policy to allow people with neck tattoos in.

The policy change comes after days of public scrutiny and media attention after an Arizona man, and a military veteran, was not allowed into the restaurant because he had tattoos on his neck.

At the time, the restaurant had a blanket dress-code policy that barred anyone with neck or face tattoos. That policy was implemented in 2010.

Robyn Moore, spokesperson for Riot Hospitality Group, which owns Whiskey Row, told ABC15 on Wednesday that the updated policy would also apply to Riot's other restaurants -- El Hefe, Hand Cut and Farm & Craft.

What happened?

Brandon Andrus and his wife visited Dierks Whiskey Row's new location in downtown Gilbert after grabbing dinner at a nearby restaurant. Andrus said the security guard would not let him in.

"[An employee] said 'Sorry, I can't let you in' and I naturally thought he was joking because I've never had that happen," said Andrus. "Being an overly aggressive veteran too, I got a little overheated."

After the situation, Andrus posted about his experience online and on Facebook. It was eventually picked up by the East Valley Tribune, which first reported Andrus' experience.

Soon after, Whiskey Row posted an apology.

"It is most unfortunate that on the heels of the grand opening of our newest Whiskey Row location that we failed to welcome one of our most loyal and celebrated patrons: a military veteran," the restaurant wrote.

Andrus told ABC15 that restaurant executives reached out to him, apologized and invited his family back in. He said the response has been more than he expected.

"They're going to be a lot of people that are able to go in there now....that wouldn't be beforehand," he said.

Whiskey Row will also hold an "Armed Forces Appreciation Day" on March 29 where a portion of its proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project.