A Frome cafe owner has apologised unreservedly to the town’s new mums after banning breastfeeding from his premises in a Twitter rant.
Chris Woodage, who owns the recently opened cafe, Crocker and Woods, in Catherine Hill, Frome, caused outrage when he tweeted on Wednesday last week that the cafe did not welcome breastfeeding or baby changing and that children must be kept under control.
Within minutes of it appearing, Mr Woodage was bombarded with complaints and had called off the ban, but the twitterati kept up their assault and after an hour he deleted the tweet and had to close down his Twitter account.
By Friday afternoon, a group of about 30 mothers, who had seen or heard about the tweet, had gathered outside the shop to hold a peaceful protest.
He has since said that he posted the tweet in a moment of anger after he was enraged by a customer who he said failed to keep her toddler under control, while she breastfed and then changed her baby on one of his fabric cushions and left faeces on it.
He said in a statement: “I’ve been working flat out on my shop single handedly for six weeks.
“It’s my baby. I hadn’t had a day off, I was tired, grumpy and it was the end of the day.
“Silly me tweets that I’m not allowing breastfeeding, nappy changing and unsupervised toddlers in the shop.
“The tweet was up for an hour, I calmed down, saw the error of my ways but by then all hell’s broke loose on the interweb. Insults were flying, name calling was going on, explanations were being demanded, abusive email’s were received.”
Laura Francis, who is a breast feeding peer supporter for NHS Somerset, said: “I work hard with lots of other people to help, promote and support breastfeeding and think it was an outrageous thing to say.
“When I heard about what has been tweeted, I was encouraged to organise a feed in and within hours we had lots of mothers and children outside the shop. It was a peaceful protest and we had a chat with the owner and made our feelings clear, but people need to know the law before they say things.
“We feel that maybe he only retracted what he said due to the controversy it caused.
“But he was really nice, listened to our concerns and realised what he said was not acceptable and apologised unreservedly.”
Mr Woodage said it was a lesson learned and wanted to make it clear that nothing is banned from his cafe.
He said: “I reacted to a situation badly, just like everyone has done.
“The only reason I brought up the breastfeeding thing is because it was the excuse she gave me for not controlling her child – that’s all.
“I understand it offended people, I understand it caused upset but I just want to say that actually Crocker and Woods has no problem with breastfeeding at all, in public, in my gaff or where ever you like.
“I do ask that kids are kept under control in the shop.
“I do ask that dogs are kept on a lead. I do ask that babies are not changed in public and certainly not on my cushions.
“But that’s it really, come in, log fire is lit and the coffee is good.”
What do you think about the issue? Was Mr Woodage right to be angry or did he take it too far? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.