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Grampa’s Pizzeria In Madison Asks Breastfeeding Mom To Leave Dining Area—This Is 2013!

July 24, 2013


I guess this is one way to get into the news.  If one thinks any mention in the press is good PR than this is a gold mine!  For everyone else (the other 99%) this is a stunner of a story.

A breastfeeding mother dining at a new pizzeria in one of Madison’s most  progressive neighborhoods was asked to leave her table and move to an area free  of customers, setting off a backlash against the owners that continues to spread  on social media.

Gilbert Altschul, 30, the owner of Grampa’s Pizzeria on Williamson Street,  confirmed the incident occurred at the restaurant last week. He said the dining  tables inside the restaurant are located close together and another patron  complained after a woman began breastfeeding her child near their table.

Altschul said his fiance, who also works at the restaurant, approached the  woman and offered her the front space of the pizzeria to use instead. He said  they tried to explain to the mother that it is their job to “make everyone feel  comfortable.”

“Apparently in doing so we enraged the entire east side community,” Altschul  said Wednesday afternoon.

  1. July 28, 2013 4:48 PM

    I’m not quite sure how MarshaK’s comments about service animals (some of which are NOT canines) and, apparently, her fear of ALL dogs fit in with a discussion about nursing mothers being asked to move to less conspicuous locations in restaurants. Both nursing mothers and service animal users have specific protections spelled out in local ordinances and state statutes. I don’t know if similar protections exist that allow folks who have somehow been frightened (even attacked) by dogs to dictate the civil rights of others. By offering the comments I’ve posted on this topic, my attempt was to provide the perspective of someone whose civil rights (hers and that of her spouse) have been violated by businesses that are subject to non-discrimination requirements.

    I certainly feel compassion for anyone who has been “attacked” by any animal — in fact, my blind husband was attacked by a neighbor’s dog while growing up. Without needing to seek out mental health and/or counseling services, he was able to get beyond the significant trauma and eventually evolve to the point where he could comfortably, responsibly, and with skill and constant control, utilize a service dog as a mobility aid. Perhaps there is a need to expand non-discrimination protections to a new classification….

    From all of the reports I’ve read and/or heard about this breastfeeding episode, the female nursing her baby seemed to be minding her own business when someone complained to restaurant personnel and restaurant personnel came up and asked the mother to move to a less-public area. When my husband and I — and, for that matter, our friends who also utilize service animals — are out in public, we pretty much mind our own business. We certainly aren’t looking for attention or any unsolicited contacts. What is wanted is that we can do the kinds of things non-breastfeeding/non-disabed/non-service animal users do without even thinking of responses from others in the public arena. (The usual comment we receive when we go to restaurants is that a server “didn’t know you had a dog there.”)

    Getting back to the topic of these posts: I’ve NEVER seen a breastfeeding mother flash body parts or engage in behavior that could even remotely be considered offensive or tasteless. If my sensibilities were so tender about breastfeeding, or if I had somehow been traumatized by a breastfeeding episode in my previous life experiences, I would ask to move to another location in the restaurant (as I have done when seated by screaming children or adults engaging in alcohol-fueled behavior). Or I would just leave. I’m not sure my individual sensibilities trump the rights of others. The onus is on the person who has the “problem” with the nursing mom, NOT THE MOTHER!

    Bottom line: breastfeeding mothers DO HAVE protections in Madison, thank heavens! And given that fewer than 10 percent of the general population (blind, deaf, folks who suffer from seizures, people in wheelchairs) utilizes service animals of any kind (dogs, monkeys, cats, horses), I take comfort that my husband and I would RARELY be in a situation where our presence would offend and/or traumatize anyone else.

  2. MarshaK permalink
    July 28, 2013 1:40 PM

    BadgerBabe, I appreciate your comments and agree wholeheartedly with you. Except: I’m very terrified of dogs, service animals or not, due to having been attacked by a dog I had been told would “never even hurt a fly.” The same thing sadly and ironically happened to one of my children. So, if I were in a restaurant and about to be seated near a dog, I would ask not to be seated there. I can’t overcome my phobia and I’d feel nervous and anxious until such time that the folks with the dog left, and that’s not how I’d want to spend an evening out. Please understand that while I don’t have a problem with a service animal being in a restaurant, I would have a problem being seated near one.

  3. BadgerBabe permalink
    July 25, 2013 12:25 PM

    Given that most restaurants — most locally owned businesses — absolutely need the good will and patronage of their neighbors to survive financially, I hope the offer of an hour of free pizza for mothers and their (nursing?) children on Thursday 7/25 will be enough to allow the new owners of Grandpa’s Pizza to move forward. These folks seem well-intentioned. But I am left wondering: If they didn’t realize they were violating a law by asking a nursing mother to move, what other laws affecting the operation of their business do they NOT know? (This statement isn’t meant to be mean. The way I’m treated is a consideration for my husband and me when we decide to go, or not go, to any business.) One way or another, they’re going to lose business, at least for awhile. (After all, the pizza purveyors responded to one or more customers who were “uncomfortable” being near a nursing mother. Now that nursing mothers have an official imprimatur to nurse babies in a public location, will the non-nursers have their pizza delivered rather than be “subjected” to lactating mothers and their babies?)

    For some folks, this episode will be something they quickly forget. For others, it will be a memory that keeps them from going to this restaurant. I wonder if anyone on the receiving end of insulting and/or discriminatory treatment ever forgets it.

    Maybe nursing mothers need to do what a lot of service animal users do — carry a copy of the applicable non-discrimination ordinance/statutes with them and show it to business owners when confronted with a request to move along and get out of public view. If the business owner insists on discriminatory treatment, you then either call local police or you file a civil rights complaint — and make sure you post the offense on social media and let local news media know. Had that NOT happened, there would have been no education.

  4. July 25, 2013 12:24 PM

    Can’t we just all get along ?

  5. Claire permalink
    July 25, 2013 11:46 AM

    The pizza peace offering is a very nice gesture, and we can all work on understanding, but it’s not neighborhood expectations that are the issue. It’s simply a law. Now he knows.

  6. Ben permalink
    July 25, 2013 11:32 AM

    This seems to be one of those stories made up of people who didn’t pay any attention when the laws changed,because it didn’t affect them at the time. Although I would have thought the owners fiancé would have noticed it “for future reference”!

  7. CommonCents permalink
    July 25, 2013 10:14 AM

    You need to update this story:

    The owner comes from a family with a good dining business history in Madison.

    Because of that Gilbert Altschul has gotten lots of free publicity and been in a number of news stories. He and his fiancé did not need to create bad publicity to get in the news!

  8. July 24, 2013 9:22 PM


  9. BadgerBabe permalink
    July 24, 2013 8:43 PM

    I wonder if this place allows shirtless males into their dining area. How about folks with visible scars or people who are morbidly obese who eat excessively? Exactly what constitutes “offensive” behavior? I hardly think it’s a nursing mother with the bulk of her breast covered by a baby’s mouth.

    My husband and I can identify with this nursing mother’s experience. My husband uses a service dog as a mobility aid. There are restaurants in the Madison area that have tried to seat us in an out-of-the-way area of their restaurant — almost always near the back of their dining areas — under the guise of making things “more comfortable” for us and for the “comfort” and a quality dining experience for their non-disabled customers. We’ve been told disabled people are “depressing” to look at and be around. Like African-Americans in the 20th Century and, apparently, nursing mothers in the 21st, my husband and I understand what it feels like to be subjected to discrimination and to Jim Crow treatment in all sorts of dining, lodging, and commercial establishments.

    Thanks for posting this. Grandpa’s Pizzeria is one place I don’t think we’ll be going to anytime soon. Perhaps the city’s Office of Civil Rights would be interested in this. And my hope is that someone posts something on the Trip Advisor website to let others know this is a place to avoid — the quality of the food notwithstanding. Mr.Altschul should know that he has offended people in other Madison neighborhoods, not just the Willy Street area.

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