LYNDHURST, Ohio -- At just eight weeks old, Jeffrey Rome, of Willoughby, found himself at the center of a breastfeeding controversy.
His mom, Jennifer Rome, and his grandmother were dining at the Gia Lai Restaurant in Legacy Village in Lyndhurst Wednesday night when it was time for Jeffrey to eat, too.
"He woke up and was hungry and I breastfeed. So, I decided to move to a booth towards the back of the restaurant away from other patrons," Rome said.
Rome sat a table that is used to roll silverware. She used a nursing cover and felt she was being very discreet.
"Began breastfeeding him and he was being actually really good, because sometimes it can be a challenge," Rome added.
Rome said a female employee gave her the impression it was all right for her to breastfeed Jeffrey there. However, a short time later, a male employee from the kitchen said otherwise.
"The kitchen staff person asked me if I would leave -- and, it wasn't would you relocate. 'You know, you need to leave.' I was very flustered. I was very embarrassed," Rome said.
The restaurant management called the incident a misunderstanding.
"This appears to be a miscommunication because that table is to be used only for rolling silverware and clean linens. She was not asked to leave the restaurant, just the table," Gia Lai shift leader Colleen McMyler said.
Rome said when she was asked to leave, to her that meant leave the restaurant.
"But, if I had been asked to move tables, simply 'we need this table make up silverware' or whatever, 'can you please move.' I would have been open to that. I still think that I was within my right to be where I was," Rome added.
Ohio law states a mother can breastfeed her baby in any place of public accommodation wherein the mothers otherwise is permitted.
According to Operations Manager Kelly Wherley, the Gia Lai Restaurant management extended an apology to Jennifer Rome.
"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," Wherley added.
Gia Lai is also extending an invitation to Rome and her son to come to the restaurant again.
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