Diners and parents have reacted angrily to Southend buffet restaurant Stuff’d introducing a £5 charge for mothers who need to breastfeed their infants during a meal. According to the manager of the famous Clifftown Road establishment, they have been forced to implement the charge ‘for legal reasons.’
Owner Natalia Reola explained: ‘Since we opened in 2009, we haven’t had a license to serve alcohol, but diners have been allowed to bring their own wine and pay a £5 corkage fee (the charge to open and drink their own alcoholic beverage while in our restaurant). Last week, a customer became angry when he was charged for bringing his own red wine while a young mother was breastfeeding her child on another table ‘for free’ – he felt that she was also bringing an ‘external beverage’ for consumption during a meal.’
She continued: ‘We consulted a team of lawyers about this, and they told us that allowing mothers to breastfeed for free and charging people to bring their own wine could lead to a discrimination lawsuit. Therefore, we have no choice but to introduce a £5 charge for anyone who breastfeeds during their meal, and the same fee will apply to bottle feeding as well as an extra precaution.’
This isn’t the first time that the ‘all you can eat’ restaurant has hit the headlines. In 2013 they were forced to withdraw their ‘Eat Until You Bleed’ kids menu after complaints – parents believed that the £3.99 deal was promoting childhood obesity.
Ms Reola added: ‘I am aware that a lot of mothers will be upset by this decision, and so if they want to avoid the charge they are more than welcome to breastfeed their babies in our terraced smoking area – we have a number of chairs in this section to make it as comfortable as possible for them.’