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Avoid snap judgment against Iven's

On behalf of the lakes area business community, I'd like to take this opportunity to commend the Brainerd Dispatch for its educational story on service dogs. During the peak of the tourism season, it's a timely reminder of the critical role and importance of these special animals as well as the laws that allow them to accompany their owners in public places. The incident at Iven's on the Bay was unfortunate but we can all learn from it.

With that said, my concern is that some may read this story and make snap judgments about Iven's, its management and staff. At times, we're all guilty of seeing these issues in black and white, painting caricatures of heroes and villains. In this case, it might be tempting to judge the restaurant as cruel, disrespectful, unpatriotic, or unappreciative of our veterans and their military service.

That would be equally unfortunate.

At prime dining times, especially during lakes area summers, the restaurant business can be chaotic behind the scenes. Success depends on ensuring a consistently excellent experience for dozens of guests at the same time. It's not hard to imagine how a situation like this could unfold in the worst possible way, especially if it represented a staff member's first encounter with an unmarked service animal.

Like many of our member businesses in the hospitality sector, Iven's has an outstanding reputation in our community and among our tourist friends. Did they make a regrettable mistake? Undoubtedly they did, like the many that we all make in our lifetimes.

The fact that Iven's Manager Sara McCabe was forthcoming and apologetic speaks volumes about her character as well as our community's commitment to exceptional customer service and our willingness to be accountable and make things right.

My hope is that we all continue to support our veterans and educate ourselves about their challenges but at the same time weigh our resulting words and actions. Iven's on the Bay is still a great establishment that I'm confident will be even better after this incident.

Matt Kilian

Brainerd Lakes Chamber CEO