On Sunday, Cole Towing removed seven cars from the Blue Bay Seafood Restaurant’s parking lot during lunch.
Those same customers are crying foul and said the signage is unclear, insisting that the towing company aggressively responded.
Walter Doggett said family members’ cars were among those towed from the Spartanburg restaurant.
“I think it’s a racket,” Doggett said. “I really think it’s extortion, that’s what I think it is.”
Doggett and his family were in town for a funeral. When they walked out of Blue Bay Seafood Restaurant on Sunday afternoon, they found two of their family cars gone.
The Doggetts were towed along with five other cars by Cole’s Towing.
Doggett, an attorney in Maryland, said, “The police told us they’ve had issues with this particular tow truck company before.”
While the towing signs are posted in the parking lot, the signage does not indicate which is restaurant parking and which is private property.
Major Art Littlejohn with the Spartanburg Police Department said Cole’s Towing is well within their rights.
“It’s private property,” Littlejohn said. “With it being private property the people who own the property has a right to say who can park on their lot.”
Matt Dinnage, owner of the Blue Bay Seafood Restaurant, issued the following statement:
“In the 11 years since my wife and I have owned Blue Bay restaurant, nothing like this has ever happened. We don’t have a contract with any company to remove cars from our parking lot. We have always shared the parking lot without incident. Moving forward we are working to find ways to protect our customers.”
When customers dine at Blue Bay on Monday evening, restaurant staff will be in the parking lot directing customers to safe parking spaces.
We left a message for Cole’s Towing, but haven’t heard back as of Monday evening.
The cars towed on Sunday could not be picked up until Monday.
Doggett said his family had to stay in town an extra day and pay $140 to get each car out of impound.
After this story aired, we spoke with Dinnage who confirmed Monday night that he will reimburse the Doggett family, as well as the other five customers, for their parking troubles on Sunday.
Dinnage said he has also scheduled to have someone come out to survey his property so he will know exactly where his customers can park from now on.