The Wooden Belly café, on Egremont Place, has put a sign outside the café, ‘No Buggies. Sorry for any inconvenience’ banning people with buggies from eating at their establishment. Local mums have been outraged by this policy feeling it’s discriminatory and bad for business.
Laura London, was walking with her little one in the buggy, in the area and wanted to have breakfast so headed for The Wooden Belly. But she was faced with the large message banning buggies outside the door. The café was empty and curious to see if she would be allowed in, she spoke to the staff. They were adamant and still said no.
“It’s just getting ridiculous,” one staff member said, “a little girl nearly pulled down a blind the other day, it could have killed her.” She went on to say that pushchairs and mums are driving away their other business. A little taken aback at her bluntness, Laura told the staff she would make sure all the parents at the local school knew about this new policy, it won’t be just the buggy mums who won’t come to the café any longer. “Fine, do that” they responded.
Laura believes their approach is rude and flawed, “the large sign outside the door is hostile, they only added the ‘Sorry for any inconvenience’ after my conversation with them.”
When we asked The Wooden Belly about the ban, they replied, “We have tried to accommodate buggies for the 4 years we have been open and have had a loose policy of asking for buggies to be folded down when we are busy. We have a large space downstairs where buggies can be placed when folded if there isn’t room to have them tucked in by your table.
However it is becoming increasingly regular for people with buggies to take offence to being asked to fold their buggies and to be really quite rude and unpleasant to us and our staff. As employers we have a responsibility to protect our staff and ourselves from rude and aggressive behaviour.”
They continue to explain their policy, “We have always asked for other large items that get brought into the café, suitcases, large instruments etc, to be tucked away or put down stairs out of the way and our customers have always done this happily. I hope you can understand that we are simply trying to run a calm and relaxing café and to serve all customers to the best of our ability.”
BrightonMums.com spoke to Oliver de Trafford, manager of Moksha Café on York Place not far from The Level park. The café always seems to manage the buggy situation well, perhaps having a slightly more buggy-friendly layout than the Wooden Belly but there’s always a mixture of clientele with and without children who happily frequent the place.
“We’ve always set out to appeal to everyone, we have the sofa areas which parents seem to gravitate towards, there’s space for prams. The vast majority of people don’t mind about having kids around. Mums meet in the morning and afternoons, when many people are at work. Lunchtimes are noisy with or without the kids so people don’t notice them!”
Local mum Faye Bridgewater, makes the point, “Such a shame about their [The Wooden Belly’s] no buggies policy. I love good coffee and I always try and support local business. I won’t have a buggy forever but this has put me off ever going back”
BrightonMums.com is equally baffled at The Wooden Belly’s approach. While we appreciate it’s a tricky situation managing large groups of buggies, many establishments in the city manage it with a customer-friendly. And while it’s unacceptable to be rude to staff, does that mean all potential buggy customers need to be turned away? We watch with baited breath to see if the, already fairly empty of one most days, cafe does get busier!
What The Wooden Belly forgets, is parents talk, parents work, we go to places without our kids but always remember where we’ve been welcomed and had a great dining experience with or without the family.
Are you local to the area? Will you be going to The Wooden Belly with or without kids? Give us your views below.
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