The Minneapolis-based chain of restaurants is making changes after the girl's chocolate milk was mistakenly made with a liqueur.
Buca Inc. is sobering up its dessert chocolate sauce in its Buca di Beppo restaurants nationwide after a 7-year-old New Jersey girl was accidentally served chocolate milk laced with alcohol.
Brent Calderwood, 35, took his family to a Buca di Beppo restaurant while visiting Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon. His daughter had drunk half of her chocolate milk when she started to not feel well. After calling their server over, they were told that the restaurant's chocolate dessert sauce, which is made in part with sambuca, an anise-flavored liqueur, had been poured in the drink instead of Hershey chocolate syrup.
Calderwood said his daughter got sick not too long after. The chef at the restaurant didn't charge them for the meal, but the next day Calderwood called the restaurant's corporate office in Minneapolis three times and left voice mails that were not returned.
"I couldn't understand how they could put the sauce in the wrong place," Calderwood said.
Buca officials, after being contacted by the Star Tribune, said they had been unaware of the incident.
"We have very strict policies on handling alcohol in our restaurants," said Tom Avallone, president and CEO of Buca Inc. "This is extremely unusual."
To make sure the incident doesn't happen again, the company is sending a memo to all of its restaurants nationwide, effective immediately, to stop making chocolate sauce with sambuca.
Amy Sadowsky, vice president of public relations for Buca, said it was a human error but disciplinary actions will be taken.
"We had no idea this happened," Sadowsky said. "Sambuca is usually used as a drink in the bar setting but will be taken out of the chocolate sauce. We don't want a repeat of a mistake like this."
Company officials also said they plan to personally call Calderwood to apologize.
A similar mistake happened in April at an Applebee's restaurant in Michigan when a 15-month-old was rushed to the hospital after being served alcohol instead of apple juice. The company immediately changed its alcohol serving policy and retrained workers.
Marissa Evans • 612-673-4211