More than 200 Facebook users have flooded the page of a regional Queensland café to leave five-star reviews of the small business—the majority of whom have never been to the café—after its stance on breastfeeding mothers went viral.
The owners of Cheese and Biscuits Café in Rockhampton last week shared with their Facebook community the story of how they stood up to a patron who took it upon himself to ask a breastfeeding mother to cover up, resulting in a massive show of support from customers who believed the café did the right thing.
The move follows an increasing trend of small business owners standing up to customers to take a stance on what they believe in.
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Speaking to SmartCompany this morning, Cheese and Biscuits Café owner Jessica-Anne Allen said she and her husband Steve were “really surprised” by the overwhelming response.
“It’s gotten a lot of positive feedback back, but we really didn’t realise how big it was going to go,” Allen says.
“We allow breastfeeding in our cafe and we just wanted to say, ‘this our stance, please respect us because we respect you’.”
On Thursday, Allen posted on the Cheese and Biscuits Café Facebook page about an interaction she had had with a customer that morning. The customer had been offended by a breastfeeding mother in the courtyard of the café and had asked Allen to tell the mother to cover up. When Allen declined the request because the business is breastfeeding friendly, the patron took it upon himself to ask the woman.
“We would appreciate it if you would respect our choice and not ask our customers to cover up yourselves,” read Allen’s Facebook post to customers.
“We were mortified this morning when someone asked us to say something to [a] young mother, when we politely declined and informed the customer that we were breastfeeding friendly, they then took it upon themselves to say something,” the post continued.
“As you can imagine we politely asked the offending customer to leave, but it still left the young mother embarrassed. It was a situation that did not have to arise at all. Cheese and Biscuits Cafe supports breast feeding mothers and we will not tolerate any bias towards them.”
The post has subsequently been shared more than 350 times and liked by more than 5000 users from around the world, many of whom have pledged to go to the café if they are ever in Rockhampton.
Facebook users have also shown support by leaving five-star reviews of the business, with more than 100 left on the page this morning alone.
“We’ve heard from a lot of mothers who’ve told us, ‘I was asked to leave a café for breastfeeding once’, and I just think that’s shocking,” Allen says.
“[Steve and I] both have nieces and nephews, we hate the idea this would ever happen to our brothers or sisters.”
Allen says she was so surprised by the five-star ratings, she and Steve this morning discussed if Facebook would allow reviews to be left by people who’d never been to the café.
“I don’t know who polices it, but it’s nice to know there’s such support,” she laughs.
Allen says she encourages all small business owners to stand up for what they believe in and recognise that they are never going to please every customer.
“In part, that’s what’s really hard about hospitality, because anyone can write a negative review now,” she says.
“But we put our foot down and had to take a stance and we did that in the belief it was the right thing to do.”
“I think it’s important to stand up for what you believe in, without getting on your soapbox. You’re a public figure in a way if you run a business. You just have to make a decision, ‘where do I draw the line?’ People will respect you for making that choice and standing by it,” she adds.