Jacksonville Beach police chief warns of restaurant employees allegedly spitting in officers' food

LATEST: Police chief fires back after owner claims he never said workers spit in officers' food

Jacksonville Beach's police chief sent a warning to the entire police department after a restaurant owner reportedly said that his employees spit in law enforcement personnels' food.

Chief of Police Patrick Dooley sent the warning on Feb. 6 urging personnel to use caution when eating at Cruisers Grill on 23rd Ave. S in Jacksonville Beach.

Dooley's letter said the owner of Cruisers, Robert Handmaker, indicated that his employees have in the past or will in the future spit in law enforcement employees' food.

READ: Police chief's letter to department personnel about Cruisers Grill

Jacksonville Beach police became aware of the claim after Handmaker reportedly 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."

According to a police report, Handmaker made the comment to officers after they responded to the business for a false fire alarm.

Officers said Handmaker asked if he could talk to the officers in his office for a moment.

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

Handmaker showed the officers a traffic citation and said he was stopped by an officer for an expired registration, officers said.

"I explained who I was, and he didn't seem to care," Handmaker reportedly told the officers.

Handmaker said he has been a staple in the Jacksonville Beach community and has been offering discounts to public servants for years.

Handmaker reportedly cursed at the officers after one of them told him he couldn't resolve his complaint, but would inform a supervisor.

Handmaker called all officers "bullies" and made the comment about his employees spitting in officers' food, according to the report.

Officers said Handmaker cursed at them several more times and said, "Have a great day, (expletive)," as they left the business.

"While I will not issue an order prohibiting patronization of Cruisers, please use caution for health and safety reasons if you choose to eat at this establishment," Dooley said in the letter.

Dooley said he provided personnel with the information so each person can make an informed personal decision.

"Should Cruisers, its owner, or its employees request police assistance, my expectation is, as always, that you provide the highest level of professional customer service," Dooley said in the letter.

Handmaker owns all three Cruisers locations in Jacksonville. A public relations representative sent Action News Jax the following statement on behalf of Handmaker and Cruisers Grill:

Cruisers Grill serves all customers with the highest level of service and integrity. For over 20 years, Cruisers Grill has supported our police officers and appreciates the opportunity to serve them and their families.

No team member has ever engaged in inappropriate handling of food at any of our locations. We would not condone or permit mistreatment of any of our guests. We take great pride in our ability to serve our customers every day and have a deep appreciation for those in our community that serve us daily – our men and women in blue.  

We are deeply disappointed and saddened to hear that false rumors regarding Cruisers Grill are being circulated. There is no factual basis to any claims that Cruisers Grill does not support law enforcement. Any investigation would reveal that Cruisers Grill and its over 100 employees treat our law enforcement community with respect and appreciation. We are confident that after further review, those parties affiliated with this matter will realize that Cruisers Grill has faithfully and diligently served our community for over 20 years. We will continue to do so and of course; we will continue to support our police officers."

A man who identified himself as the general manager of Cruisers Grill posted on Facebook:

A woman who identified herself as a former employee of Cruisers Grill said something like that would never happen.

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Posted by Action News Jax on Tuesday, February 7, 2017