Cafe Society

Got milk? Breasts are not on the menu at this Old Country Buffet

When does breast-feeding constitute a crime? When local police officers don't know the law.

Bethany Morton was at the Old Country Buffet in Maplewood, Minnesota, for Easter dinner when her six-month-old son, Dawson, got hungry -- so she started feeding him milk au natural, without bothering to cover up for puritanical patrons. Of course, someone complained -- and first a server, then the restaurant manager asked her to hide her exposed bosom. She refused to do so because, according to Minnesota law, "A mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast-feeding."

Whew, talk about a mouthful.

Within a few minutes of Dawson having his liquid lunch, the family was asked to leave, The restaurant was fine with the baby-feeding, Old Country corporate minions insist; the problem was that Joe Santos, Morton's fiancé, was being loud and abusive. But Morton told a Star-Tribune reporter that Santos was just standing up for his family's rights and "he's a loud man who grew up in a family of six kids and he has to be a little loud to be heard."

As the couple left with Dawson and their three-year-old, they were briefly stopped by the town's finest, who wanted to talk about their unwelcome addition to the buffet. When the family recited the law, the officers mistakenly said the statute applies to public parks, not restaurants.

"It's not something that we deal with any regularity," the police chief later conceded.

A little tit for tat might be in order.

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