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Eatin’ Stupid in the Neighborhood

August 30, 2007

A woman walks into an Applebee’s, and… No, it’s not the start of a joke. It’s the story of a woman who went to a Kentucky Applebee’s restaurant, got a booth in the back, and eventually began breastfeeding her son when he got hungry.

…a waitress came over and said that if she wanted to breast-feed, she had to cover the baby with a blanket. Ryan said it was so hot that she didn’t have a blanket. The waitress then repeated her request. Ryan said she then asked to see the manager and handed him a copy of the 2006 Kentucky law that prohibits interference with a woman breast-feeding her baby in public. The manager said he knew about the law but a customer had complained about indecent exposure, so she had to cover the baby with a blanket.

The Lactivist points out that Kentucky law explicitly states that breastfeeding in public cannot be considered indecent exposure, and that “No person shall interfere with a mother breastfeeding her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.”

After writing two letters to the company that manages the KY Applebee’s location, the woman received a response that “the restaurant chain would consider keeping blankets in the restaurant so that breast-feeding women could cover themselves.”

The President of the management group went so far as to suggest that the mom was seeking controversy because she had a copy of the Kentucky law on her. Except, carrying such a card is exactly what many organizations recommend, such as the Kansas Dept of Health, the California Dept of Health.

The mother is asking for an apology from Applebee’s, and for them to train employees on the rights of breastfeeding women. If you live in the area (Lexington, KY), a nursing event has been scheduled for September 8th, coming only after the woman spent two months attempting to address the issue up the Applebee’s chain of command, only to be offered the “we’ll stock blankets” solution.

You can contact Applebee’s “guest relations” using this form.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2007 1:36 pm

    Thanks for including the “guest relations” form. I’m writing them now to issue a complaint. To make it faster for other people who want to write Applebee’s, I suggest including the following information, along with the complaint:

    State: KY
    City: Lexington
    Location: Nicholasville Rd.
    Date of visit: June 14, 2007

    If Applebee’s gets enough complaints with this specific information attached, they’re more likely to give it the attention it deserves.

  2. August 30, 2007 2:10 pm

    So does this mean I can complain to an Applebee’s manager when
    –someone’s four year old child is running rampantly uncontrolled in the restaurant and taking food off other patron’s tables

    –someone’s 15 year old kid wearing a “System of a Down” t-shirt is using every possible variant of curse word known to mankind at the top of his voice because his dad won’t let him go see Fahrenheit 9/11

    –some dude is taking flash pictures of his elderly mother holding his infant son, with the flash aimed right in my eyes

    –an entire family three tables over is disgruntled with the quality of their food and take so much time complaining to their waitress (who is my waitress) that I don’t get MY food or drink refills


    Because all of these have happened at our local Applebee’s and I’ve just let it go. I figured that if you eat in public you, well, get to deal with the public. I had no idea that Applebee’s was that into enforcing codes of behaviour in their establishment. I can’t believe the one time they get all decorous is the one time the behaviour is actually a legal right.

    I suppose if they wanted to be really smart they could just advertise an open breastfeeding policy as “free kids meals available” or something.

  3. August 30, 2007 3:01 pm

    Kat, somehow I suspect that all of that truly obnoxious behavior would be deemed tolerable. Hmph.

  4. donna permalink
    August 30, 2007 10:48 pm

    I wouldn’t set foot in an Applebee’s if I were paid to.


  5. Jay permalink
    August 30, 2007 11:42 pm

    I suppose stepping into the restroom would have been too much to ask.

  6. August 31, 2007 6:32 am

    I’m sorry, I really don’t get it.

    People are distressed by women breast feeding in public? Could the complainer have been a woman or is this a male issue? [I’m so embarassed…]

    What kind of psychosexual distress would lead to someone being offended? Was the guy a reformed rapist who was having trouble controlling his urges?

    Maybe there are some places that breastfeeding should make the mother uncomfortable: I have suggested hockey games on my blog… maybe their lawyer’s office? Well, I’m having trouble…

  7. August 31, 2007 6:58 am

    Good Lord, Jay, she was nourishing a child, not eliminating waste from her body.

  8. August 31, 2007 7:48 am

    What Mack said. Do you like to eat in restrooms? Do most restrooms you’ve seen have chairs for a nursing mother to sit in? Aside from which, she is legally permitted to breastfeed anywhere women are otherwise allowed to be, and that certainly doesn’t just include restrooms.

  9. Tami permalink
    September 2, 2007 10:47 am

    I don’t eat in the bathroom because it’s gross. I don’t expect my infant to eat in the bathroom, either.

    You see more skin on the cover of Cosmo than you do with most nursing mamas.

  10. Tami permalink
    September 2, 2007 10:48 am

    Oh, yeah….

    And this is just one more reason to NOT eat at places like Applebee’s.

  11. September 2, 2007 11:09 am

    Tami, indeed. You definitely see more skin in Cosmo or even on the beach!

  12. September 2, 2007 11:48 am

    Yep the beach is crazy like that I mean there people topless on beaches all over (South Beach).

    So I don’t get why someone is offended by that in a restaurant. I don’t think Apple Bees gets it that she has the right to feed her child.

  13. Connie permalink
    September 11, 2007 4:24 am

    Are they going to stock and offer blankets to those wearing low cut tops? Breast are breasts. Although I’m sure they find it acceptable when exposed in a sexual manner.

  14. Eridani permalink
    November 16, 2007 12:28 am

    Well, I wouldn’t really want to see a woman breastfeeding. I don’t care if it’s natural…She’s still exposed in a public place.

    Still, hungry children have to eat. She has every right to feed her child, and as someone else said, it’s a public restaurant…If you eat in a public restaurant, then you should expect, well, the public.

    I’ve seen plenty of things while working for a restaurant that I’ve found unacceptable. The worst was a girl wearing her short prom dress and no panties, sitting wide-legged at the bar and facing everyone else.

    Thankfully, no one complained…Though even if they had, it’s hard to get a manager to do anything about guest behavior at our restaurant.

  15. kristen permalink
    July 8, 2009 3:47 pm

    The public is very unwilling to accept breastfeeding mothers in public whether they are wrapped or not. I have a wrap and have breast fed in public I get stares and comments. Why should I have to stay at home because I want to give my son the best start possible. It is a real sacrifice and commitment to breast feed, women should be celebrated for their choice, not looked at as though its gross. The public has some misconception that breasts are only used for sexual organs and cannot accept the fact that they are intended to provide nutrition to our children; there is nothing sexual about breast feeding. As a side note, when breastfeeding without a wrap very little is seen, because the breast is covered by an infant’s head. You probably couldn’t see anymore than you would with a low cut top, but they don’t make those women cover up. I wear a wrap to make others more comfortable, yet it sometimes is not enough.


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