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Chuck-A-Rama offers apology

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Isabelle Leota, left, and Sui Amaama have been center of controversy.

Isabelle Leota, left, and Sui Amaama have been center of controversy.

Matt Powers, KSL-TV

Chuck-A-Rama publicly apologized Thursday to a West Valley couple who were told at one of the local company's buffet-style restaurants they couldn't have more roast beef because they'd eaten too much.

Sui Amaama and his wife, Isabelle Leota, also were offered an unspecified number of free meals, and the company pledged to clear up the confusion over the difference between buffet-style and "all you can eat."

The controversy caused by their meat consumption may not be over, however. The couple did not attend the press conference called by Chuck-A-Rama and didn't show up for a scheduled meeting with company executives Thursday night.

Amaama and Leota could not be reached for comment about Chuck-A-Rama's offer. Their lawyer, Greg Smith, said they fired him about an hour before the company's announcement.

"God bless 'em, I hope the best for 'em," Smith said, declining further comment.

Duane Moss, the chief executive officer of Chuck-A-Rama, said he still hoped the matter could be resolved.

"I don't know if it's stood up," Moss said after waiting in vain about a half-hour for the couple. "I don't know if there was a misunderstanding about the meeting we were supposed to have, but we'd still like to put an end to this."

The apology follows a week of intense publicity surrounding the April 20 incident involving the couple. They have appeared with their lawyer on national news programs, including "Good Morning America," and their story has appeared in newspapers around the world.

Company officials said they wanted to sincerely apologize to the couple but also insisted they had the right to determine how much food their customers can eat. Less clear was how they go about doing that.

"Chuck-A-Rama has always offered a buffet-style menu and as such, has always reserved the right to limit the quantity of food selections that our customers may choose during their meal," Moss said.

The couple had reportedly consumed a total of 18 slices of roast beef during their meal — a dozen for Amaama and six for Leota.

"In our experience, 12 in this situation was excessive," Moss said.

Amaama was told by the manager at the Taylorsville Chuck-A-Rama that he'd had enough, and the manager refused to serve him any additional slices. Leota asked for their money back, and the situation escalated to the point that police were called to escort the couple from the premises.

Moss said the manager of the Taylorsville restaurant would not be disciplined, but the company will strengthen the training given to managers

about how to deal with customer concerns.

Chuck-A-Rama is still trying to figure out the best way to explain to customers that while they can help themselves to the buffet, there are limits, Moss said.

"We have the responsibility to assure that each customer who comes through the doors understands," he said.

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com