Jacksonville Beach restaurant under fire after owner claims workers spit in officers' food

A man standing outside a popular Jacksonville Beach restaurant on Wednesday with a sign that said "Cops Lunch Matters" is one of hundreds of people upset about claims that workers spit in law enforcement's food.

Action News Jax broke the news on Wednesday that the owner of Cruisers Grill in Jacksonville Beach told officers that workers spit in their food.

Cruisers Grill owner, customers respond to allegations of workers spitting in law enforcement's food

Bobby Handmaker was reportedly upset about a traffic citation for an expired tag and told an officer: "I have been made aware for quite some time now that some of my employees have been spitting in officers' food and now I know why, because you are all bullies."

Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Patrick Dooley sent a notice to all police department personnel on Feb. 6 after officers told him about Handmaker's statements.

On Tuesday, Handmaker said the allegations were false.

Dooley told Action News Jax on Wednesday that Handmaker came to the police station to apologize.

He said sorry to the officers he confronted about the ticket but denied ever saying anything about employees spitting in their food, Dooley said.

"The owner has basically said that what they said in their statements is not true," Dooley said. "That’s why I’m here today to refute that, because my officers did tell the truth.”

Dooley said he's not going to tolerate Handmaker making it seem as if his officers were lying.

"These officers are being truthful. They have no reason to do anything less than tell the truth," he said.

Dooley says it’s unfortunate employees at Cruisers have been caught in the crossfire.

“I know for a fact there are a lot of really good young people that work down there at Cruisers," he said. "Cruisers has been a main-stay at the beaches community for quite sometime.”

Dooley said the department and the restaurant owner have agreed to disagree, and that officers will continue to protect and serve cruisers no matter what.

“I will stand for nothing less than our officers to continue to provide the highest level of community service and professional level for anybody—doesn’t matter what they think of us," he said.

Hundreds of people have spoken out against the owner on Facebook and Twitter, some suggesting a boycott of the restaurant.

The Cruisers Grill Jax Beach Facebook page has more than 100 comments from people upset about the owner's claims.

Action News Jax gave Handmaker an opportunity to respond to Dooley's remarks on Wednesday but he did not want to comment. A longtime employee at the restaurant told Action News Jax that Handmaker stands by his comments.