“I think it's safe to say I'm the Mayor of Happy Hour,” the Applebee’s Twitter account announced to the absolutely no one who asked. But there’s a small opossum in South Carolina who just raised its head toward the Applebee’s bar and said “OH REALLY?”
On Friday night, Adriane Neico, her husband, and her sister-in-law all had dinner at the Applebee’s on Fernandina Road in Columbia. Everything was fine—as fine as it gets at an Applebee’s in Columbia, South Carolina—until she looked toward the bar, and saw an opossum hanging out, just behind the bottles of store-bought sour mix. Neico did exactly what one does in that situation, which is to say “Oh hell no,” out loud as she recorded the situation on her cell phone.
“The manager had the nerve to say no pictures please. Well with that being said, her worries should have been on customer satisfaction,” Neico wrote on Facebook. “I paid my bill of $36 and left. However, I should have been compensated for this meal. Who knows how long he was inside of the restaurant? Not to mention all over the drinks I just ingested from the same bar a nasty possum was crawling around on.”
We could neither confirm nor deny the nastiness of the possum, but Applebee’s did say that it was probably just there so it could dry off. “The safety of our guests and team members, as well as the cleanliness of our restaurants is a priority at Applebee’s. This isolated incident occurred following a heavy rain,” the company told WLTX in a statement. Immediately when the animal entered the restaurant, the team acted fast to contact animal control, which was able to safely and quickly remove it from the restaurant.”
Neico’s husband, Jimmie Frazier, confirmed that the manager did try to catch the opossum—but it sounds like the Applebee’s employee handbook doesn’t cover how to trap small mammals. “I said the best thing y'all could do is close this section right here, so that it can't get from behind the bar," he told the station. "So she put a trash can down that was a rectangular shape. I said ‘Ma'am, he'll jump over that.’"
Both Frazier and Neico confirmed that they still had to pay their bar tab. The possum was ultimately removed from the restaurant, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) required all potentially affected food items to be discarded before the bar area was “cleaned and sanitized.” (VICE has reached out to the DHEC to confirm that these steps were taken.)
Last December, a former employee from Richmond, Virginia restaurant My Noodle & Bar posted photos of two opossums inside the kitchen area, including one that had seemingly made a home for itself in a storage bucket. “There was like an opossum running around and we were like, ‘Oh cute, but also gross,’” another former worker, Sammi Lanzetta, said at the time. "We eventually captured the opossum and let it back outside.” Joe Kiatsuranon, My Noodle & Bar’s owner, confirmed that there had been an opossum in his restaurant, but said that it wasn’t in the kitchen—despite what was seen in the photos —and that it was also “like three months ago” (which is no less unsettling).
Neico and Frazier have had a few days to get un-shook from their own wildlife encounter, but they have differing opinions about returning to the restaurant. Neico wrote that she was “done with Applebee's,” but Frazier’s not quite ready to write the entire chain off. “We'll go back to Applebee's, but we won't go to that one,” he said.
Meanwhile, Applebee’s keeps tweeting things like “Ppl say gin is like licking a pine tree. i say ‘yep' and keep licking,” and I’m increasingly convinced that an opossum might run their social media accounts, too.