An Update on Gia Lai

***BLOGGER UPDATE: I have accepted Gia Lai’s apology and consider the matter to be closed. In my blog posts, the comments section, and on social media, I have said all I feel needs to be said on this matter. I understand there may be further opinions expressed in both support and disagreement, but I will no longer be replying to comments. ***

I just received this email from Gia Lai‘s operations manager. This is not the person I contacted, but rather someone who read the blog post. I’m reprinting the email in its entirety. I am not accepting their offer of a gift card, but am encouraged that they will be better training their staff as to how to handle these situations in the future.

This whole incident could have been avoided through better communication and knowledge on all parts. If I had known that the employees needed the booth, I would have moved. I was honestly trying to be as discreet as possible in my choice of where to breastfeed.

I’m hoping this closes the book on this. For my part, I am grateful for the apology and the staff training. I am also grateful for all the support from a lot of different corners of the Internet. We, as moms, do our best to take care of our babies. We’re not always perfect, nor are the situations and people we encounter. But at the end of the day, we’re all doing our best.

Dear Jen,

Please accept my sincerest apologies for the mistreatment of you and your son at our restaurant last night. We have no policy against breastfeeding mothers at the restaurant (nor should any public place of business!), so I was really surprised by your blog post this morning. What happened last night does not reflect the views of management of the restaurant and we are really disappointed by the behavior of our staff last night. It is our goal to accommodate all of our customers in any way that we can.

I don’t want to make excuses for our employees in anyway but perhaps explain our side of the situation. The booth were you sat we only use for employees to roll silverware and prepare table linens. The female shift leader who approached and asked if she could help you probably only came over to see if she could assist you, not knowing that you were breastfeeding. She turned away to give you privacy because it’s not what she expected when she walked over but in any manner should have said something kind to acknowledge your presence. I don’t think her intentions were to be rude but to give you and your child privacy that you and he deserve.

As for the second staff member, the dishwasher from the kitchen, came out to bring silverware to the table for the servers to roll. He did not go out to the table to approach you. He went out unknowingly only to do his job. He definitely should not have stood there.

We are all humans and sometimes our reactions are not what we intend them to be. Although this was an unfortunate situation for both parties, we will take this opportunity to better train all of our staff and make a pledge that it won’t happen to another mother at our restaurant. I’ve went ahead and refunded your money- you should see a credit in 5-7 days. I would also like to extend an offer to visit our restaurant again and if you are interested I will send you a gift card.

Again, my sincerest apologies. 


Kelly Wherley

Operations Manager

13 Responses

  1. Communication, like I said! 🙂 Once I posted my comment on the other post, I saw this!
    This does make a lot of sense. Both of the people were probably embarrassed and didn’t know how to process it at the moment…creating embarrassment in you as well and causing a mess of a situation. Ugh! Nice of them to respond and try to clear that up.

  2. as a former GM, I’m sorry this happened–but it sounds like it was a training opportunity for the staff. very nice of them to refund your money–I broke my foot walking out of an well known ohio city bakery/cafe and the owner pretty much just shrugged. needless to say, I never went back.

  3. Dear Gia Lai, Instead of reserving a table for linens and silverware, why not find a new place for that purpose and reserve this space for breastfeeding Moms or others who need privacy or “timeout”? I think that would be a great service to your younger, with children clientele!

  4. Charlie

    I think it would have been in everyone’s best interest if you had waited to post about your experience until you had a chance to speak with a GM or someone else from the restaurant or chain.

  5. Why should she have waited for a response from a GM or someone else from the restaurant? What happened, happened. Breastfeeding mamas shouldn’t have to go up a chain to have a situation like this remedied. Most wouldn’t want to risk further embarrassment. I would have been mortified if I was in the same situation (I did a lot of hiding out in cars feeding…just not as brave as some moms)

    Unless you’re a breastfeeding mom yourself, it seems most people don’t realize the emotional roller coaster breastfeeding in public can be. Some women are fine with breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere and don’t worry about public opinion or reaction, but for others it’s incredibly personal, and sometimes a stressful thing to find someplace private, and often even though the law is on their side they have to deal with looks, or comments, or inappropriate responses. This is almost a completely American issue too. Breastfeeding isn’t so taboo in other parts of the world.

    Fact of the matter though is, the law is the law, and whether the employees were uncomfortable or not, their reactions were poor customer service. Considering how common and natural breastfeeding is, businesses and employees need to get over their issues with it, and figure out how to accommodate moms. The burden shouldn’t be on a customer to make things right, it should have been the staff there that very night.

  6. J

    I find it odd to even speak of the matter which was obviously a misunderstanding from the moment it happened in such a public matter. What were you hoping to happen? And it’s weird that you went to the news about it prior to dealing directly with the appropriate party at the restaurant in a given amount of time. I have to admit I’m kind of embarrassed for you. Not because of what happened but for how completely blown out of proportion you made it. I would think someone in the law field would have a little more common sense.

    1. To me, it wasn’t obviously a misunderstanding from the start. Misunderstanding or not, moms have a right to know what their rights are and businesses have a responsibility to educate their staff.
      I was approached by Fox 8, not the other way around. And, again, in the name of raising awareness and giving both sides a platform, I stand by my decision to share the story.

      1. Jen

        I was surprised you assumed a quiet area in a restaurant was ideal without taking it up with staff. Honestly, from a former server there are areas unsafe in the hustle and bustle of a restaurant. If this quiet table was near the kitchen or for deliveries did it cross your mind you were in the way? I think you blew it out of proportion considering your approach of letting staff know where you were going, why, etc.

  7. Johnny

    Also, no laws were broken by the restaurant, state or federal. I’ve seen that thrown about way too many times for it to go unsaid.

    If you’re not supposed to be in an area as a patron, then you can’t breastfeed in that area. That’s the law in a nutshell.

    Nobodies rights were violated here so just stop with that silly nonsense.

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