Family alleges Colorado City polygamist-owned restaurant violated their civil rights

ABC 4, Utah/July 28, 2006
By Brent Hunsaker

All the Chatwins wanted was a little lunch. They were turned away - not once, but twice. The 2nd time they brought with them a video camera hidden in a bag. On the tape, the restaurant owner, "Big Dan" Steed, can be heard saying, "See that sign on the door, I will enforce that, okay?" Steed was pointing to a sign that states the restaurant reserves the right to refuse service.

Isaac Wyler, a Chatwin cousin, respectfully asked, "Can you even give us a reason why? Is there something about me that I can change so that I can be served?" He received no answer. "If a black person came in here, would you treat him like this?" Still no answer. Instead, Steed picked up a cell phone and called the Jeffs controlled Colorado City town marshall and asked the Chatwins be removed.

"It's all because of our religion," said Michelle Chatwin who was there with her cousin Isaac and her husband Andrew. Their family does not follow the polygamist FLDS prophet, Warren Jeffs.

Steed and just about all of the other business owners in Colorado City remain faithful to Jeffs, even though Jeffs is now on the run from the FBI. Jeffs is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List. The Chatwins are accustomed to the isolation living in what remains a Jeffs stronghold. But not even being able to get a bite to eat is a new wrinkle in that isolation and they do not intend to put up with it.

They have filed a civil rights complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's office. They are considering a lawsuit as well.

One other note on this story: The Colorado City restaurant in question, named "Chester Fried" is now in trouble with a national company. After being contacted by ABC 4, the company issued this statement:

"Chester's International, LLC granted an initial license to operate under the Chester Fried brand to Nephi Draper in Hildale, UT in 1998. In 2005, Chester's discovered that the location was sold to Dan Steed which marked the record in trademark violation. Chester's retail locations are non-transferable, and therefore the new owner was operating the location without an authorized licensing agreement. Unbeknownst to Chester's, the restaurant in Hildale continued to operate using Chester Fried signage while using non-Chester Fried branded supplies. "Chester's is not affiliated with the store in Hildale or its current operator. Chester's today initiated action against Mr. Steed to immediately cease and desist use of the Chester Fried brand, which he is in no way authorized to use. In regards to recent incidents at the Hildale store, Chester's is not affiliated with Mr. Steed's enterprise, and it rejects principles of exclusion and discrimination in all cases. Chester's mission is to provide great tasting food to all customers no matter their beliefs or background. We mandate all of our licensed and franchised operators adhere to these principles."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.