Photo of city citation
Photo of flags out front
Photo of Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q in Marietta
MARIETTA, GA -- It's hard to find a more patriotic place than Williamson Brothers Bar-B-Q in Marietta.
Its walls are covered with clippings and tributes honoring its contributions to military and law enforcement.
In 2001 it catered meals for Pentagon rescue crews after the 911 terrorist attacks.
Many of its customers come from nearby Dobbins Air Force Base and Lockheed Martin Aerospace.
They also include the area's business and political elite.
That's why the restaurant was stunned and angered after it was threatened with up to a $1,000 fine for flying two patriotic flags. Displayed just below Old Glory, one honors POW's and MIA's, the other is to support the troops.
Wednesday morning, a Marietta code enforcement officer wrote them a citation ordering the flags removed within 48 hours.
"We were very surprised because we've flown those flags for 10 years and no one's ever said anything," restaurant general manager Michelle Jehlen told 11 Alive News on Friday.
After taking down the flags and displaying them inside the restaurant along with the citation, Jehlen also complained about what happened on the restaurant's Facebook page.
That made many customers hotter than the smoke coming from its chimney.
"You got a lot of people at Dobbins, a lot of people that eat here and I think it's totally wrong," said regular customer and military veteran Steve Tennant.
When the city got wind of the protest and began investigating, it backed down and apologized.
"Unfortunately, the inspector that went out there didn't have all the facts," said Brian Binzer, Marietta's Director of Development Services.
"You're not allowed to have a commercial type flag on the property and the inspector didn't see the entire flag," Binzer told 11 Alive News.
The restaurant is grateful for a personal apology from Binzer, but some of its customers are still hotter than the restaurant's most potent Bar-B-Q sauce.
When asked what his thoughts were about an apparently overzealous bureaucrat, customer Jack Walter said, "Probably nothing that's useable on camera."
Binzer would not discuss what action, if any, may be taken against the inspector, but he said the city will review its codes and make sure all enforcement officers are familiar with them.