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Breastfeeding moms in public akin to topless bar, restaurateur says

06/12/2015 09:18 EDT | Updated 06/12/2016 05:59 EDT
A Maple Ridge, B.C. restaurateur is facing backlash after he compared women who bare their skin while breastfeeding to performers at a topless bar. 

Todd Pratt, the owner of The Frogstone Grill, says he has no problem with women breastfeeding at his restaurant, but he says there are limits.

"What we don't want is women that feel they need to bare it all while feeding their baby. They will be asked to cover themselves up," he says in a Facebook post. "There is already one topless bar in town and council won't approve another."

The controversy started when one mother, Brianne McNally, claimed she was told to cover up while nursing her baby, Lux, at the eatery this past weekend. 

"A lady at the restaurant just came over to the table really abruptly and just went, 'Do you have a blanket or something to cover yourself up with?'" said McNally. 

McNally packed up her husband, their four children and their dinners and left. She posted her story on Facebook as well, saying while her tank top was pulled down, she wasn't showing much skin.

"There's really nothing showing ... her head's covering [my breast], her hand is there," she said. "If you don't want to see, don't look."

Restaurant owner regrets his words

Now, Pratt is defending himself, saying he didn't know that in B.C. women are allowed to breastfeed in public whenever they want and that discriminating against them is a human rights violation. 

"I was not aware that this was actually written as a human rights law so we certainly will respect that," he said. 

And for the outrage he's triggered for his topless bar comment, Pratt says he regrets it.

"It was meant very lightheartedly and I think a lot of people took offence to it and that certainly wasn't my intention."

He also points to The Frogstone Grill's reputation as a family-owned restaurant that is well known for its community work, including annual dinners for single mothers and their children. 

"Moms have been nursing here for 16 years," he said. "We have three kids, we just have a new grandson. He's nursed here. We've never had an issue." 

Breastfeeding mothers say that's not good enough and they're planning a "nurse-in" protest this weekend.

"As far as I'm concerned he was speaking his mind. You don't say things like that and come back from it," said fellow mom Katie Clunn, who plans to take part in the nurse-in.   

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