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Breastfeeding Mother Kicked out of Boca Raton Houston's Restaurant

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Here's an interesting response to all those people that tell us we're complaining about nothing and that if we'd just be more discreet, it wouldn't be an issue...

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

As 5-month-old Marcello nestled at her breast under a blanket, and the rest of Simone Bertucci's family enjoyed dinner at Houston's restaurant this week, a restaurant manager interrupted the meal with a startling order: Bertucci must leave while she was nursing.

In case you didn't catch what I'm talking about, let me offer up another quote from the story...

A modest woman and mother of three who is breastfeeding for the first time, Bertucci said she always takes a blanket to cover up but she could sense a disapproving vibe from a nearby table.

Get that? She was nursing UNDER a blanket and she STILL got kicked out.

Oh and Florida law does specifically protect the right of a mother to nurse anywhere public or private.

The mom in this case did get a pretty quick apology according to the article.

Glenn Viers, vice president and general counsel of the Beverly Hills-based Hillstone Restaurant Group, which owns Houston's, sent a letter to Smith on Friday with the company's apology to the Bertuccis and an invitation for them to return.

"We mishandled the situation and we very much regret it," Viers said. "I can't un-ring a bell. I've got three kids and my wife breastfed. Stuff happens. We're human, we make mistakes and we strive not to."

If any good can be derived from the incident, Viers said, it will be that awareness about nursing moms will be heightened.

"I think that when we are doing our management training, we'll give this a little more attention than perhaps it's received in the past," he said. "There's not a person in my company today that doesn't have an understanding of what the rights of breastfeeding moms are in the United States."

Ok, it's a start...and if they really are training their staff fully on the matter, I applaud them for taking positive steps to make sure it won't happen again.

I just found it interesting to see this story after I spent some of yesterday debating back and forth with a male reader about how us nursing moms should not only be MORE discreet (he couldn't define what discreet was) but that we should also apologize if anyone is offended no matter how discreet we're being.

If women are still being booted from restaurants for nursing while using a blanket, we certainly have a long way to go before moms can simply nurse.


  1. Anonymous twood | 7:06 PM |  

    I like how the VP's letter of apology actually seemed *real*. He didn't try to pass the buck, said they mishandled it, and that there is now more awareness of the correct response in their company. Better than most apologies, I think!

  2. Blogger Judy | 8:04 PM |  

    "Boca Raton" means "rat mouth" in English.

    I always thought that was a dumb name for a city. :)

  3. Blogger OB Doctor | 10:13 PM |  

    Doesn't the fact that this was worthy of being a newspaper story suggest this (breastfeeding moms being asked to leave a public place) is a rare event?

  4. Blogger Jennifer | 5:46 AM |  


    1.) The greatest majority of women that this happens to never tell anyone. They just quietly go to the car or bathroom where they cry and nurse and wonder what it is they're doing wrong.

    3.) The greatest majority of women never nurse past the first few weeks, so they don't have the opportunity to have this happen. Many reason cite nervousness about nursing in public as a primary motivator for formula feeding.

    4.) Having spoken to, emailed with and helped publicize MANY incidents like this, I can tell you that very few manage to get media coverage.

    5.) As long as even just one mom is still being harrassed and the law is still being broken, sites like this one will need to exist.

  5. Blogger Debbiemommy | 9:45 AM |  

    I live in a state where there is only one law (and it is new I live in WV) that states breastfeeding is excused from public indeceancy laws. That is it and in talking to a of all people car salesman a few months ago (had the baby with me and gave him a heads up I was going to feed him he said go for it!) He also informed me that when he was working as security in one of the amusment parks here they were specificlly told if they spotted a nursing mother to "leave her alone" if they received a complaint from one of the other visitors they were to remove that visitor from the area and not bother the nusing mom. Why don't more places tell there employees the same thing? Remove the complainer not the mom. They can go eat their dinner in the bathroom if they feel offended!

  6. Blogger Jennifer | 2:23 PM |  

    By the way, if you are new here, you might enjoy reading through the archives of the Nursing in Public category.

    Again, these are only the cases that got media attention, got internet attention or that I had time to cover.

    Sadly, it's not rare.

  7. Blogger stephanie | 6:12 AM |  

    I am really pleased that the VP included the comment that his wife breastfed. This is a great sign! As more of us breastfeed and educate our friends, co-working and families about breastfeeding, we are extending the mantle of acceptance and support for breastfeeding moms.

    Before I began breastfeeding my baby boy I am certain that my loving husband would have been one of those offended by a mom breastfeeding in public. Now, after almost 18 months of breastfeeding in all kind of situations - church, community parks, restaurants, the Zoo - he will support any women's right to feed her child in any location. I am so proud of him and I know that he is just one husband among thousands that are now pro-breastfeeding.

  8. Blogger Amber | 8:16 AM |  

    As a former breastfeeding mommy, who fed on demand, wherever I happened to be- I never "offended" anyone. Or, at least not enough that they said anything to me. Here is a thought- my hubby has a friend who is a great guy, single, good-looking, hard worker, etc... his downfall- he is the most obnoxious eater! When he chews he smacks his food, eats strangely with his mouth open, eats incredibly fast, and talks with his mouth full of food. This is one of my pet peeves, and I have become very focused on coaching my kids not to talk with full mouths. Sadly, there are adults who eat disgustingly out in public places all the time. Where are the waiters and other diners who should be sending these people to some bathroom to eat?
    And I know that I would rather have a nursing mom at the table next to me, instead of a hungry, crying baby. It does take longer to get a bottle ready than it does to get ready to nurse. It is so sad that we need laws to protect our children's rights to eat when they are hungry.

  9. Blogger Nevanna | 3:51 PM |  

    I agree...I like that the apology didn't sound typically corporate.

    And Ob Doc: while I personally have not been asked to leave, I often find restaurant servers are "uncomfortable" with my feeding the baby. When I nurse him, I am frequently--as in, every couple of minutes--asked if I need a box, am I leaving, etc.

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