America is filled with restaurants of all kinds. From Japanese maid cafes to Hulk Hogan's Pastamania (which obviously served Hulk-U's and Hulk-a-Roos), the melting pot that is the United States truly has a restaurant for every creed and color.
We even have a restaurant where the servers throw rolls at you. Wait. It's a restaurant chain.
Lambert's Café, a mini-chain of restaurants in Missouri and Alabama, is, according to its trademarked phrase, the "Home of Throwed Rolls." According to one account of the restaurant in action, waiters there lob "the light, yeasty missiles . . . from great distances across the cavernous dining room. Diners raise their hands like outfielder wannabes to grab onto the hot buns." Its website? Throwedrolls.com, of course.
Most people, including the many who arrive there in buses and tour groups, find Lambert's Café and its "throwed" rolls to be a mildly amusing diversion. As Lambert's website says, "Last year we averaged baking 520 dozen rolls per day, for a grand total of 2,246,400 individual rolls." It appears that each roll—or the vast majority of rolls—was received by customers thanks to an elegant chuck in the general direction of their heads.
Many famous customers—from Elvis to Jay Leno—have graced the halls of Lambert's. But one recent customer did not appreciate Lambert's unique roll-delivery system. And she has brought a lawsuit to express her sincere displeasure.
According to her lawyer, William Meehan, whom MUNCHIES spoke with earlier today, the plaintiff in this case is named Troy Tucker, and she is an elderly woman who was on a trip with her church group a few hours outside of St. Louis. When the group stopped to eat at the Lambert's Café in Sikeston, Missouri, Ms. Tucker was struck by a roll in the eye and suffered an injury to her cornea.
Meehan said that although Tucker did not require surgery, she did need medical treatment. In a legal complaint filed this week, Tucker seeks an award of at least $25,000 to pay for her medical bills and legal fees.
Meehan told us it was negligence on the part of the restaurant. He said that when you go into a restaurant and "the waiter spills brandy on the tablecloth and then someone drops a match and you get burned, the restaurant is liable."
We asked Meehan if perhaps the restaurant gives its customers notice that they may be in harm's way thanks to the throwing of the rolls. He said he wasn't aware of any kind of notice, but that he hasn't visited the restaurant.
Some pundits are speculating that Tucker's case may be compromised by the advertising Lambert's does. After all, Lambert's customers are dining at a place that tells them the rolls are going to be "throwed" at them. As one blogger points out, just this June, "the Kansas City Royals and their mascot were deemed not to have been at fault after a thrown hot dog hit a man in the face and tore his retina. In that case, the 'baseball rule' was referenced, and the jury found that the man assumed some responsibility for personal awareness by entering a baseball stadium."
Will this precedent compromise Tucker's case?
Meehan told us he isn't worried. He says the restaurant is responsible and that he will prove his case in court.
On the other hand, the restaurant's general manager, Jerry Johnson, told a local news station that the servers "never intend to hurt anyone when they throw those rolls." Johnson told the TV station, however, that this "isn't the first time someone has sought money after getting hit by an errant roll." He also said that in some of those cases the restaurant's insurance paid for medical expenses. When we called him today, he refused to comment further.
Will Tucker's case prevail? Who knows.
But as the Lambert's Café website says, the restaurant lives by "Norman Ray Lambert's 13 Golden Rules." The first of these is this: "As the Bible says, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'"
And we all want rolls thrown at us, don't we?