Tossed: Man thrown out of popular Winter Park restaurant sparks #saladgate controversy

Bruce Woodburn, 61, says Hillstone had him trespassed for wanting a salad to go

File photo of a salad

WINTER PARK, Fla. – After a man was recently trespassed from the Winter Park Hillstone location, the hashtag #saladgate has become a trending point of contention in Orlando’s online foodie community.

The incident happened on Tuesday, according to a trespass warning report from Winter Park police.

According to a police report, a patron — Bruce Woodburn, 61 — was causing a disruption in the establishment and a restaurant representative wanted to have him trespassed. Woodburn was read the trespass warning and stated that he understood what it meant, then left the scene without incident, police said.

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Woodburn then took to social media to share his side of the incident in a four-minute Facebook video with the text, “You could get arrested for ordering a salad to go at Hillstone Winter Park. It almost happened to me!”

“Hey there, I have to share the most amazing lunch experience that I’ve ever had,” Woodburn said at the start of the video.

In the video, Woodburn claims that while having lunch at the Hillstone location, he requested two salads to go. He said the server then left the table but returned to tell him he could not have the salad to go.

“I’m like, ’Well, we’ve been ordering that salad for 20 years here, when it used to be Houston’s (another restaurant in the Hillstone Restaurant Group) — same salad and my wife loves it and whenever I go for business lunch, I always grab one and bring it home for her.’ (The server) goes, ‘No, we won’t let you have that salad to go. It’s against our policy and that’s our policy.’”

At this point, Woodburn said a manager became involved in the conversation, he said. He described a back-and-forth between him and the workers in which they repeatedly denied him a salad, even if he wanted to eat it in-house. Eventually, the manager asked Woodburn and his dining guest to leave, Woodburn said.

“We weren’t irate. We weren’t raising our voices,” Woodburn said in his social media video. “We’re just absolutely, quite frankly, ready to crawl up off the ground because I could not believe what I was actually hearing.”

Included on the social media post with the video were two photos of Woodburn smiling with at least one, possibly two, Winter Park police officers.

According to the trespass warning report, a representative for Hillstone later called Winter Park police and “expressed displeasure with how the call was handled.”

“She was concerned that more attention wasn’t given to her during this traumatic event, and that the rapport developed with Woodburn was inappropriate,” the report reads.

Since Woodburn posted his video online, it has been viewed more than 58,000 times and shared more than 570 times. He has also been posting pictures of himself getting food to go from other restaurants in the area.

The hashtag #saladgate has also been popping up in several foodie Facebook groups with people debating about what happened to Woodburn.

The Hillstone Restaurant Group does have a section on “Dining Guidelines” on its website but does not include any information on its to-go policy.

News 6 has reached out to both Hillstone Restaurant Group and Woodburn about the incident. This story will be updated if either responds to our requests for comment.


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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.