Our Northwest

You can buy, but please don’t eat here

Tuesday, January 19, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

When does a fast-food patron become a loiterer? That’s the question being asked this week in Rathdrum, Idaho, 28 miles northeast of Spokane.
     The mother of a 13-year-old boy recently said her son was told to leave the Rathdrum Taco Bell immediately after buying his food, according to a krem.com story. This, despite freezing weather outside.
     “You are not allowed to sit down after you’ve ordered your food,” the boy said he was told.
     His mom said her son is a good kid with good grades.
     The owners of the Taco Bell franchise did not respond to KREM News inquiries about the no-dining policy, but a company statement said, “we are dealing with excessive loitering, aggressive and rude behavior, and safety concerns.”
     Rathdrum’s Taco Bell is located across the street from Lakeland Jr. High and just down the street from Lakeland High School, so it likely draws many students.
     Perhaps the rowdy behavior that warranted the strict policy came from young patrons who adopted Taco Bell as their hangout. Whatever the source, the crackdown is stoking bad sentiment on Facebook posts.
     My extended family owns the nearby Sylte Ranch, and having spent the summers of my youth there in the 1960s and ’70s, it amazes me that Rathdrum is now big enough to even have a Taco Bell. Back then it was a sleepy town of just 710 souls with only one fast-food eatery (now Granny’s Pantry), built in 1967. Rathdrum today boasts 7,090 residents.

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