A countryside cafe is set to boost its family friendly credentials with an expansion of its facilities this spring.
The new play area and improvements to the menu were announced at the Tree Tops Cafe in Rushmere this week after two mums were barred from feeding their babies in a mistake blamed on “teething problems.”
The families involved have now accepted an immediate apology from The Greensand Trust, which runs the Heath and Reach countryside park, and the catering manager at the outlet after taking to social media to gauge other parents’ opinions on the issue.
Dean Marshall, father of Maximillion, ten months, was initially furious that the two women, his partner Claire Millgate and her friend Stephanie Creighton, mum of Campbell, had been given a warning.
But after talking to staff he praised their quick response in clarifying the situation.
The incident arose when the mums visited the park earlier this month and stopped in at the cafe for a coffee and bite to eat.
After ordering coffees and food for themselves they sat down and produced small, homemade sandwiches and fruit to feed their babies.
A member of staff came over and told them that they couldn’t feed the tots with food brought in from outside because “the taxman wouldn’t like it.” There was nothing, at that time, on the menu suitable for small babies.
Said Dean: “I quite agree that people shouldn’t take their own food into a cafe as it harms their business but feeding babies is different. There was nothing on the menu for them, they can’t eat very well, and most food outlets accept that.
“They weren’t thrown out but they were told that if they came back in the future they shouldn’t bring their own baby food. It made them feel upset and very uncomfortable.
“I went on Facebook to see what other parents thought and the reaction was quite strong. Mostly others were outraged and thought the rule ridiculous.
“The manager has now apologised and said that they are changing the policy. She was very good in dealing with our complaint, taking all our points on board so I commend them for that. I think someone was just being a bit over zealous”.
Jon Balaam, director of development at The Greensand Trust said: “The café is still relatively new and there will inevitably be some teething problems.
“We have immediately resolved the issue by creating a policy that allows the parents of babies and young children (under 3) to bring their own food to be consumed in the café.
“We are also looking to improve the range of foods we sell for this age group.
“The issue arose because we have implemented a policy stopping people from bringing their own food to the café and erected signage about this (a standard policy in any café).
“We have immediately clarified the policy with all café staff.
“We very much want Rushmere Country Park and the Treetops Café to be a destination for families of all ages, and aim to make this visit as enjoyable as possible.
“We will very soon begin construction of a toddler play area adjacent to the café, with other improvements to the visitor facilities due this spring”.
*The Greensand Trust has applied to Central Beds Council for permission to install lighting and CCTV at its entrance.