Category Archives: breeder restaurant rules

Applebees Hates Babies, Try Hooters Instead

If you’re hungry next Saturday (September 8th) you might consider going to Hooters for lunch. But first drive by Applebees and honk your horn in support of the national nurse-out/nurse-in or better yet make a witty sign and go stand up for a baby’s right to eat. That’s right, you read it correctly, I am endorsing Hooters as a family-friendly restaurant. A few months back in Kentucky a woman left an Applebees crying (and without her meal) to nurse her baby in the car. Despite the fact that she chose a booth in the back of the restaurant so she could nurse her baby while waiting for her own meal, she was asked to cover up. With no blanket handy they told her she’d have to cover or leave.

Even though KY has a law that states a woman has the right to feed her child anywhere she’s allowed to be, the manager said the comfort of his customers was his priority. Wow, I didn’t know you can break a law on account of people finding it uncomfortable or offensive. When my kids are crying in the back seat next time, I’ll just race through that school zone so I can get home faster. My comfort is a top priority and apparently that’s how the restaurant manager sees it too. The law mentions nothing about a woman having to cover up. And let’s get real here, most babies hate being covered. I lose my appetite too in hot humid environments, like say under blankets. And if you’re a complete bigot about to comment on my blog (first thanks, I love comments of all kinds) and suggest she go to a bathroom to nurse, try eating your plate of hot wings sitting on the john. I won’t complain if you use the fold down changing table.

Breastmilk is amazing because the taste changes depending on what a woman eats. So often even a newborn can get a whiff of a deep fried appetizer and say “waaaah”, meaning “I’m hungry please feed me,” even though Precious has never tried the boneless burritos or beer battered cheese nibblets before.

The multi-franchise owner (Thomas and King) had their lawyer send a letter stating that the company is considering having blankets handy to give out to women, who don’t have them, to avoid this situation. That’s really pretty gross, who’s going to clean those blankets? And with what sort of detergent? What if little Tommy is allergic to Tide?

Why doesn’t she just pump a bottle you ask? Well, pumps are expensive, are they going to hand those out too? And sometimes women can’t pump. It can be a lot more painful than a soft baby mouth. Then we’re back to the comfort issue. What if little darling won’t take a bottle? It happens, especially if they smell mama around. OR what if mama can’t pump the same quantity that the nursling can extract?

Honestly, the only time I’d consider going to Applebees would be to protest. Before today it would have been to protest the taking of frozen crap food and deep frying it and charging people $10 a plate.

I did a little experiment of my own last night. I thought of a pretty conservative place, Lubbock, TX and called up the fancy new Hooters off of Loop 289 and Slide Road. Sure, it’s possible that people nurse their children in Lubbock, but I’ve never seen it firsthand and I lived in the area for 19 years.

“Thank you for calling Hooters Lubbock blah blah blah.”

Me: “Hi, I was just curious to know if you guys have a breastfeeding policy?”

Super nice girl on the other end: “Uhhhh I’ll have to check on that.” Hold music (“I’ve got hooters on my mind la la la la la”) Perfect!

A different woman, Lexi, is given my call and explains to me that she’s from the home office. She tells me that there’s no policy on breastfeeding. “You’ll probably cover up that little head right,” she asks.

Me: “Well she’s 5 months old and doesn’t like to be covered but it’s not like I’m going to take out my boob and show everyone around me before I feed her.”

Her (in a much more personable tone): “You know what, you do what your family feels is right, use your discretion, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

So then I call up Applebees in Austin (where we live). I purposefully pick the closest location to Central Austin where the dirty hippie mamas often do these “bizarre feeding acts”.

“Thank you for calling Applebees yadda yadda yadda” says unassuming young man.

Me: “Hi, do you have a policy on breastfeeding at your restaurant?”

Him: “I’m sorry?”

Me: “If I come to eat there with my family, can I breastfeed my baby?”

Him: “If you cover up with a blanket then there shouldn’t be a problem, but there’s no policy I know of.”

Me: “OK thanks.”

So while the responses aren’t “you go girlfriend, good for you that you are providing the food nature (if you’re in Lubbock, God) intended,” I was surprised to learn that Hooters in a very conservative town came out the winner over Applebees in much more progressive Austin.

Also Lexi scored a few extra points for Hooters when she used the word “family”. Because this isn’t about me having the right to nurse, it’s about my baby having the right to eat. Breastfeeding awareness and acceptance isn’t a woman’s issue, it’s a family issue. We humans didn’t secure a place in the Mammal category because of formula. Plus Applebees gets a big point deduction for giving a toddler a sippy cup full of MARGARITA in June, even if it was an accident. After throwing up and a sleepy trip to the hospital, the little guy bounced back from the tequila tango. Top shelf tequila for a toddler on June 14th, OOPS. Breastfeeding a baby uncovered on June 15th, NOT ACCEPTABLE. Gotcha.

So Hooters in Lubbock, ironically I will be in your area this weekend. If I can convince Nana and Granddad to eat with me and my girls at your location, I might just buy a t-shirt after my meal. Does Hooters sell nursing tops?

Kids are the New Black

but I guess there are some people that didn’t get that memo. I find that surprising in a world where US Weekly is one of the most read “news” sources available. Almost every cover features Angelina or Brittney with a kid or 2 dangling off of them. As far as we know every human adult started out as a baby. So what’s with all the haters out there?

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I just came across an article about the increasing use of kid-free zones. Restaurants and beaches are starting to either segregate kiddos and their families or exclude them altogether. When Camilla was just under 2 years old a friend of mine invited me to join her at Saba Blue Water Cafe for happy hour appetizers and a drink. I opened the front door holding Camilla, who was asleep in my arms, and was told to wait there. The host went to the back and then returned to inform me that they stopped allowing kids inside but would make an exception. I was still puzzled when I ordered my mojito . It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be allowed in a food establishment at 4 in the afternoon, especially in a place with the word cafe in the name.

When she woke up she tried my ceviche and loved it. She really really loved it. I don’t know very many kids that devour raw shrimp marinated in citrus juice, but how often are they given the opportunity? I have always seen her mouth as my palate (no pun intended), my blank slate. She was well behaved and I would have left if a tantrum ensued. The point is, this was 2 years ago and I’m still thinking about the mini gastro-adventure we went on that day. The problem with not allowing children at all is that well-behaved ones miss out too.

It wasn’t very far back in history that certain groups of people weren’t allowed in restaurants. Seriously, maybe kids really are the new Black after all. How could anyone deny these darlings gourmet fare?

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Formerly Annapurna (New York City)

This review is about a past and future experience. As I don’t have the resources (time, money, energy) to pack up my darlings and fly to New York for dinner tonight, I’ll have to rely on memory. Annapurna was my absolute favorite Indian restaurant. Even after a 2 hour jaunt to Queens to experience an almost exclusively Indian neighborhood, it turns out I felt most satisfied with Little India (more like teeny tiny India) in Manhattan. dosahut.jpg

Annapurna, as I learned this weekend, means literally “big matter” or “fullness” but most commonly, “full of food”. I opened up my mailbox on Saturday to find a magazine offer with my name on it. It’s a consumer reports of the food industry. I opened it and read with horror that a certain brand of ice-cream contains more saturated fat than is recommended per day in just one single serving. My frustration was not with Haagen-Dazs but with the fact that there are people in the world that need a magazine to tell them that ice-cream isn’t the healthiest food choice. As a child of the 80s I know all too well what the “snackwell” industry has done to America. It’s made us fat! Why? Because we aren’t satisfied. We aren’t full of food, good tasting food.

When I enrolled in cooking school I was fed cheese, cream, all sorts of oils, steak etc. And within 3 months I had lost 17 of my 20 post September 11th pounds. For the first time I was satisfied. So on Saturday I threw the abomination in the garbage and picked up my current read, “Zen and the Art of Anything”. I opened it up to the section on eating and drinking. For the record, I deplore eating rules. “Good foods/Bad foods” are for people without taste buds.

Food so much is about memory and that’s where the pressure of parenting comes in. Do I want my girls to remember the taste of slow churn ice-cream made in the backyard or the low-fat kind from the green container? Really, which is healthier? Memory and experience are what bring me back to that beloved unassuming eatery in NYC. Makhani Chicken was my favorite dish there. It’s so buttery and creamy with a balance of acid from the tomatoes and lemon juice. I would scoop it up with steaming Naan and top it with grilled onions to make a sort of fajita, (I’m from Texas y’all). I cheated and read a little review on citysearch that said it’s kid friendly. I don’t remember whether they have highchairs or not since kids weren’t anywhere on the radar back then. It was a really big place and there wasn’t a wait (although it could get pretty crowded around 8pm). Order a lassi and the kiddos will be in heaven, I remember them being delicious. The staff I don’t think was particularly nice, but it’s NY…who is? Unfortunately I read that Annapurna has a different name now but I would still risk it and take the kids there.

If you are going to NYC stop by what used to be Annapurna and fill your belly. Then walk across the street to the famous Kalustyan’s (Indian and Middle Eastern Grocery store) and buy a tin of saffron. It’s only $30 instead of $60 elsewhere and it’ll last 10 years. Do the math, $3 a year for beautifully colored and seasoned rice. Your children will love you for it. I would give this place 4 1/2 golden sippy cups full of mango lassi.

What used to be Annapurna 108 Lexington Ave. NYC (212) 679-1284

Let’s do Launch

Today my second child is 8 days old, and we’re both absolutely ravenous. What better time to launch this little idea I’ve been dreaming up? Here’s the foggy/sleep deprived vision:

As a breastfeeding mama and culinary school grad, I want to ensure that I can go to any restaurant anywhere and the two of us can eat simultaneously. What if we were so lucky to live in a time that embraced childhood “gastro-education” (yeah, I coined that)? We teach our kids how to read and write but not how to eat. Sure we say “eat your veggies” or “that’s too much candy,” but we don’t really value exploration. I am positively obsessed with my children’s palates. When my 3 year old was a wee babe, I occasionally supplemented with, gasp, formula. BUT, not until I had done a blind tasting of about 5 different brands. Organic is definitely the way to go, the other stuff tastes like a metallic milkshake. I vowed that she’d have access to all different kinds of food. She had been exposed to sushi, curries, and calamari all before her first birthday and even though she loves her mac & cheese, I’m able to coax her to try just about anything still.

So, why not expose my children to gourmet food? Well, there’s the possibility that the valet dude might scoff at my ’88 volvo wagon with dual carseats, there won’t be a changing table, breastfeeding might offend the upper class (peasant food), my 3 year-old might talk too loudly, or I just might be ignored because of the stereotypes of parents being bad tippers.

But what if I’m wrong? Here’s the experiment. I will take my children to nice places to eat. No Chili’s, no chains unless they are local, no fast foods. These restaurants will be rated on toddler tolerance (she will be required to behave), breastfeeding tolerance ( I’ll do my best to be discreet), highchair/changing table accessibility, and the ability of the waitstaff to serve a tired mother just as they would anyone else.restaurant_cal.gif

Please mamas and daddies, join me in this experiment. Go out to eat! And eat well. Leave comments about your experiences and remember… Breeders are Eaters too, chicken nuggets just won’t do!