Veteran denied at Gilbert bar happy with company's response

Posted at 6:14 PM, Mar 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 14:29:06-04

Update (3/22/17): A spokesperson confirmed to ABC15 that Dierks Whiskey Row and Riot Hospitality Group have updated its tattoo policy. Guests with neck tattoos will not be denied entry. Read more.

A Valley veteran is opening up about the incident where he was refused entry into a bar, and what's happened since he posted about it online.

On Wednesday, Brandon Andrus, his wife, and brother went to the opening of Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row's opening in downtown Gilbert. 

"[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."

Andrus and his wife cooled off across the street, while his brother decided to find out why the Marine who served two tours was turned away.

"It was because of the numbers on my neck, they didn't know what it was and thought it was related to a gang," said Andrus.

Andrus has the number 22 tattooed on his neck. 

"It represents the 22 veterans that commit suicide every day," Andrus explained. "I've had quite a few friends commit suicide from our time in Iraq and yeah I don't want that to happen anymore." 

What Andrus didn't expect was the restaurant's quick response to clarify the misunderstanding. 

Robyn Moore, a spokesperson for Riot Hospitality Group, which owns Whiskey Row, told ABC15 Andrus was turned away because of a company policy prohibiting neck tattoos.

In 2010, the business instituted a dress code barring entry to anyone with a neck or facial tattoo. 

"I think it's a ridiculous policy and I think it's discrimination against some really good people," said Andrus. 

Managers from the Whiskey Row in Gilbert called Andrus and personally apologized, the parent company also posted an apology and said it is looking into amending the tattoo and dress code policy. 

Whiskey Row will be working with police to identify  "...the difference between gang and non-gang related tattoos." 

Moore said the company values veterans and all those who have served. The Whiskey Row in Gilbert is now planning a "Veterans Appreciation Day" on Wednesday, March 29th. Proceeds will go to the Wounded Warriors Project. 

Andrew says the response from Whiskey Row is more than he ever expected and is especially excited about the possibility of policy changes. 


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