“I looked at him and said, ‘Felix, you don’t want to do this,’” says Jamie Boyd (with Joseph Taylor and their two daughters).
  • “I looked at him and said, ‘Felix, you don’t want to do this,’” says Jamie Boyd (with Joseph Taylor and their two daughters).
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On Sunday, December 2, Jamie Boyd and Joseph Taylor met at Felix’s Restaurant in Lincoln Park to eat dinner and to swap their children to Mom (Boyd) after a weekend with Dad. They sat at a table near an open door in the back of the restaurant. Only 2 of the 15 or 20 other tables were occupied, both with families. Football games played on every television screen. While Boyd and her family waited for their food, she began to nurse her 20-month-old daughter.

“The waitress, who has known us forever, came over and said, ‘Can I get you a napkin or a tablecloth?’” Boyd says. “I didn’t get what she meant. I thought she meant because kids make messes and need lots of napkins or something.”

Boyd smiled, thanked the waitress, and said no, she didn’t need any extra napkins. A few minutes later, the restaurant’s owner, Felix Berry, approached the table. They’d met him several times before and considered him a part of their community, not only because they frequent his business, but also because he’s a personal friend of Taylor’s aunt and uncle. Although the restaurant’s Euclid Avenue location had opened just a few months prior, the family had been dining at the Oceanside location since Boyd was pregnant with her now–four-year-old daughter.

Soul, yes, breastfeeding, no — restaurant Felix Berry asked a nursing mother to cover up or leave the dining room.

Soul, yes, breastfeeding, no — restaurant Felix Berry asked a nursing mother to cover up or leave the dining room.

“I had expected that he was coming over to say, ‘How are you?’ and ‘Thanks for supporting my business.’ I told him congratulations on the new restaurant and he asked me if he could get me a tablecloth,” Boyd says. “Then he said, ‘You can go to the toilet or the office.’ I still didn’t get it.”

When she realized that he was asking her to hide her breastfeeding or leave the room to do it, she was stunned.

“I was wearing a trench coat and a long-sleeved shirt, and meanwhile the Charger girls were up there [on the televisions] shaking it,” she says. “On a Friday night in there, people are showing way more breast tissue than I am. I’m sure Felix has never thrown out a scantily clad woman on a Friday night.”

California is one of 45 states with specific laws that allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location; one of 24 that has laws relating to breastfeeding in the workplace; and one of 5 that has implemented or encouraged breastfeeding-awareness education campaigns. Boyd, an acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health and pediatrics, is not only familiar with these laws, she’s an advocate.

“I looked at him and said, ‘Felix, you don’t want to do this. It’s a law in the state of California,’” she says. “And he said, ‘I don’t want to speak legalese with you.’”

The way Berry tells it, the incident was not a matter of legalities but of courtesy.

“The problem was that there was a family in close proximity that had young children,” he says, “and all we were saying was someone needs to get permission from this family to say it’s okay for their children to be exposed. In other words, your rights don’t supersede someone else’s rights.”

During the 15-minute conversation between Berry and Boyd’s family, no one raised their voices. Several times during the discussion, Boyd thought they might reconcile, but again, Berry suggested that her options were to breastfeed in the bathroom, her office, or perhaps her car.

“We have four bathrooms,” he says. “If it was really just a matter of feeding your child, there was a bathroom not 20 feet away. So, it wasn’t a question of her rights. It was a question of her ability to do what she wanted, how she wanted to do it.”

The family decided to leave and they haven’t been back since, but a personal boycott of the restaurant isn’t enough for Boyd. As an advocate for breastfeeding, she wanted to make an educational point, but nothing so dramatic as a nurse-in.

“I have clients who cry that they can’t breastfeed in their home because their mother-in-law is not comfortable with it,” she says. “I don’t want to embarrass Felix, but I want to remind the public that breast milk is the best food for our children.”

Boyd makes it a point to distance herself from the “attached parenting” extremists portrayed on a Time magazine cover back in May of 2012, which showed a mother breastfeeding her almost four-year-old son. Though she doesn’t consider herself quite that radical, she is concerned about public education around breastfeeding benefits and laws.

“It’s not that I’m a brazen attached parent, although one could argue that I am,” she says. “But the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to two years, and I’m going to make the healthiest choice that I can for my children.”

While the family who had complained may or may not have had an issue with breastfeeding in general, Berry claims that this was never his stance.

“I don’t take a position. If you take a position, human nature is to defend it,” he says. “All I was trying to do was make an atmosphere that was congenial for everyone. It didn’t make any sense to me why someone wouldn’t use that little bit of discretion to the benefit of the entire restaurant.”

He expresses his disappointment at the loss of what he thought was going to be a “wonderful relationship for many years” between himself and the family.

Boyd says she’s “totally bummed” that she no longer feels welcome or comfortable at Felix’s, but she’s also disappointed that the incident happened at all in the state of California.

“You’d think this would’ve happened to me in Missouri. But I go home to Missouri all the time, and I’ve never been asked to leave a restaurant for breastfeeding,” she says. “In my California bubble, I’d like it to be a California bubble.”

Boyd says that, for the most part, her and Taylor’s families have been supportive of the couple and “outraged” about the situation at Felix’s. But Taylor’s octogenarian grandmother sided with Berry. “She said, ‘About time!’” Boyd says. “‘I’ve been having to watch her breastfeed all these years.’” ■

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Comments

Pidge Jan. 23, 2013 @ 3:47 p.m.

The article doesn't state: Was Jamie discreet in her nursing? If not, then she's not appropriate in her response. If she was, then the restaurant was in error.

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Fred Williams Jan. 23, 2013 @ 8:46 p.m.

Pidge...what woman isn't "discreet" in her nursing? Have you ever seen a case where a mother is "indiscreet"?

Neither has anyone else...

And so what if it were the case that someone could see? Who is damaged? Who is offended? Who is bothered? If you don't like to see breasts used for their most obvious and natural function, then you certainly have other mental health issues as well...

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Fred Williams Jan. 23, 2013 @ 8:43 p.m.

People need to get over breasts...we all have them, you know.

No kid is ever going to be traumatized because they see a breast. Can anyone cite even one case...any case...any time...ever? No?

The tired excuse that children would be offended is just that - and excuse...the only people mentioned in this article who claim to be offended by breasts are other women who aren't actually offended, but simply offensive.

If you don't want to see breasts, then don't look at them, whether they're on the beach, on the television, or being used for their most obvious function.

If you think breast feeding is somehow sexually suggestive, look into getting treatment...you're seriously sick.

The notion that children could somehow be damaged or traumatized by seeing a woman breast feeding is ridiculous..."I was damaged for life because my mother put her nipple into my mouth when I was just a baby. I'm a victim of abuse!"

Let's all ignore bitter shriveled biddies with nothing better to do than complain because a mother is doing what a mother should do. The kids don't care one bit. To force a woman and her baby into the bathroom to feed is what's really offensive.

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s_anthony Jan. 24, 2013 @ 6:35 p.m.

I'd love to see this guy feed his customers in his bathroom.... wouldn't that be equivalent of asking her to feed her baby in the bathroom? I'd love to talk to the first customer who actually agrees to go eat in the bathroom while dining there. Why not set up some tables in there so customers can choose to eat in there instead of in the dining area when they are offended by someone doing something that was A) legal in the state of California and B) natural.

First and foremost - breasts are there to nourish a child. If the other family couldn't deal with that, and viewed it as some kind of sexual thing, then they were in the wrong and need to reconsider their idea of what women's breasts are for and teach their children the FIRST reason why they exist. If they feel otherwise, they need to teach their kids the right reasons and not let marketing and advertising do it for them...

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kutekat6 Jan. 24, 2013 @ 9:01 p.m.

Would it have been that awful to accept the napkin or table cloth and cover up a bit? It appears there were other options presented prior to the offer to use the office or restroom. I'm all for breastfeeding, it's natural, but so is pooping. That doesn't mean that I want to see it while I'm eating dinner, nor do I want to spend my precious time out explaining to my 5 year old the concept. It's a matter of common courtesy.

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MadamAdams Jan. 25, 2013 @ 1:42 a.m.

Oh hell no! How dare you compare breastfeeding to pooping! You are either completely unaware that they are two totally different biological functions of just plain ignorant. Breastfeeding in public leaves nothing to be cleared away and is an act of giving nutrition to a young baby/toddler. "Pooping" as you term it, is the act of relieving the body of waste and a health hazard. It leaves material behind that is hazardous to the public health. Also, most breastfeeding mothers try their hardest to have very little flesh on show when feeding - you'll see more flesh watching football games and seeing cheerleaders than you would a breastfeeding mother!

As for not wanting to "spend my precious time out explaining to my 5 year old the concept." maybe you should try simply saying to your 5 year old if they ask that that mummy is feeding her baby and leave it at that. Children do not want or need a more in depth explanation than that.

Maybe you need to think before you comment, after all, its only common courtesy or were you never told "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"?

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kutekat6 Jan. 25, 2013 @ 2:10 p.m.

My point Madam was that there are many "natural" things that are better achieved with a bit of discretion and consideration for other people when you are in public. You are so quick to be hostile, and try to belittle me.....I never said anything that wasn't "nice", just different from your view....maybe you need to check yourself! Since you felt the need to comment, please answer the primary question......Would it have been that awful to accept the napkin or tablecloth?

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Isaacs_mom Feb. 4, 2013 @ 12:07 p.m.

You don't want to spend your precious time explaining to your 5 year old? Hmmm...isn't that a parent job? To teach their children? I mean really, how long would it take to say "Honey, that mommy is feeding her baby. Some people choose to use bottles, but some choose to nurse their baby." If you don't want your child to see that, then tell them not to look. If you have the right to have a manager tell me to leave because you don't want your child to see me nursing, then I should have the right to ask the manager to tell you to leave because I don't want my child exposed to ignorance

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 24, 2013 @ 11:19 p.m.

This is terrible PR for the restaurant IMO. Bad move.

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 25, 2013 @ 2:51 a.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 25, 2013 @ 10:48 p.m.

What did I do wrong this time??????????????????

1

scullster78 Jan. 25, 2013 @ 8:28 p.m.

naturalbornwriter, it does not matter that you don't want to look at it in a public place. Breastfeeding is legal and protected by law. End of story.

But, why does it bother you? What exactly about the human body doing exactly what it is designed for is offensive or dirty or what?? Mammals have always nursed their young. It is a distinguishing characteristic. There is no reason for anyone to find it offensive. As Fred Williams pointed out, mothers almost always try to be discreet, if only to help their baby focus on nursing. All available research proves that breastfeeding is best for mother and baby. Society should encourage, promote, and support breastfeeding at every possibility.

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Just_Sayin Jan. 25, 2013 @ 9:36 p.m.

It is natural. It is for nourishment. It is an experience shared by mother and child. It is beautiful .. however, just because you can do it in public does not necessarily mean you should ..., Just_Sayin

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Caros_mama Jan. 28, 2013 @ 11:42 p.m.

Did you notice there were no facts indicating the other family was even bothered by her breastfeeding? More likely just the uptight owner protecting his outdated views onto others. Heaven help the codger who attempts to interrupt my breast feeding.

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rujoking Feb. 2, 2013 @ midnight

So...if my baby is hungry I should go to the bathroom, away from my family for twenty to thirty minutes and feed my child where people relieve their bowels, and eat my food that I am paying for cold....yeah right! And I always used to use a cover but as my baby has got older he does not like it, he doesn't want his head covered while he is eating he will pull himself off and tear the cover away and you are much more likely to end up seeing my nipple and breast if I attempt to use a cover than if I just feed him, you would rather a screaming child? People are so ignorant. And you have to say to a five year old is...that's how she feeds her baby...period end of story....you don't want to look at a child eating? Then don't look....I don't like to see obese people eating...it grossed me out....but I don't ask them to put a tablecloth over them or go to the bathroom to eat. People need to grow up!

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Isaacs_mom Feb. 4, 2013 @ 12:01 p.m.

Newsflash....the purpose of breasts is to breastfeed! Breastfeeding, in public or otherwise, is not only legal (yea, that is right, California has laws in place to protect the rights of nursing mothers!) but the most natural thing in the world. To those who say go to the restroom,I ask you this... would you eat your food in the bathroom? Or tell your child to eat their food in the bathroom? I think not. Here's an idea, if you don't want to see a mother nursing her child, then don't look! Simple. Problem solved. And lets be honest, to actually really see anything while a mother is nursing her baby, you have to REALLY be staring. While a baby is suckling, the nipple is covered!! Yes, from time to time the baby will de-latch, but the view is only possible for a few second. So again I say, don't like it, don't look. I would always attempt to keep everything covered while nursing, either with a receiving blanket, or adjusting my shirt. However, if someone chose to complain about that, then I'd just stop covering myself at all, with a comment of " well if that bothers you, then you should really stop looking now".

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