Popular Tex-Mex restaurant El Patio has been the subject of a social media firestorm after allegations surfaced late Thursday night that the restaurant asked a mother to leave rather than allow her to breastfeed her child. Angry Facebook users have posted over 50 one star reviews since Thursday evening.
"Shame on you for shaming a breastfeeding mother," reads one of the many similar entries. A post about the incident on the Breastfeeding Mama Talk Facebook page has generated over 100 comments and 250 "likes."
The only problem is that the Tex-Mex restaurant says that the incident simply didn't happen. "To be clear, no employee of this restaurant has ever or will ever ask a breastfeeding mother to leave. Period," the restaurant writes on Facebook.
A representative tells CultureMap in an email that owner Jon Deal has reviewed security camera footage and can't find any evidence that the incident took place, and no one has contacted the restaurant claiming to be the person at the center of the incident.
Deal provided the following statement:
The El Patio customer base is multi generational and family oriented. We have never had a policy that prohibits breastfeeding and those who know our bar, Club No Minors, will find great humor in that allegation. However, as the name implies, NO MINORS, and that would include infants. We happily allow families of all ages in our main dining room. We apologize for any miscommunication or misunderstanding that may have occurred and want all to know that we are very supportive of women and their rights.
While the details surrounding the incident remain murky, staff members do recall a patron with an infant who attempted to enter the restaurant's famous "Club No Minors," which — true to its name — does not permit anyone under 21 at any time. The woman's friends had been in Club No Minors but came back into the restaurant to visit with her. According to the restaurant, the unnamed woman paid her tab and left without speaking to a manager.
Even the blog Bellies & Babies is skeptical. The author cites the lack of verifiable information and the restaurant's history of supporting the Austin Milk Bank to suggest the story isn't fully true.
To demonstrate its commitment to breastfeeding mothers, El Patio has organized a Feed-In on Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm. The restaurant will donate 20-percent of all sales to the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin in support of their Houston outreach efforts.