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Anxious parents question restaurants' security
By Bonnie Booth | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 9:53 PM

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Originally published Jan. 10, 1993

The murder of teenage employees of the Browns Chicken & Pasta in Palatine has many suburban parents thinking twice about whether to let their children work at a fast-food establishment. And naturally, the fear went beyond Palatine's borders.

"If one of my children wanted to work in a fast-food place now, I wouldn't let her," said Wheeling resident Maria Topliff, who has two teenage daughters "Not after this."

The manager of a Browns restaurant in Arlington Heights said she received "one million and one" calls from parents Saturday. Some said their children wouldn't be working a shift that day, and others said their children would never return to work at the store.

Managers of several area fast-food restaurants said they employ teenagers on the last shift. Yet managers said they take a variety of safety precautions including checking for people lurking in the bathrooms, having employees leave through the front door and watching them walk to their cars.

Some parents said they view the Palatine murders as a tragedy, but an isolated one.

"If it was happening once a month throughout the suburbs, I would have second thoughts. Seven separate incidents would mean more in terms of concern," said Wheaton resident Dennis Jamieson, whose older son worked for an Arby's for six years.

Jamieson, a lieutenant with the Glen Ellyn police department, added he would not discourage his younger son from working for a fast-food establishment.

"If my 17-year-old son wants to work in short-order, I think he should," Jamieson said.