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Chesapeake IHOP owner on treatment of breastfeeding mom: ‘It was a mistake.’

Posted at 5:42 PM, Oct 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-15 18:53:48-04

"It was a mistake."

Those were the words from Chesapeake IHOP owner Sattar Shaik after a mom, Samantha Copeland, exclusively tells NewsChannel 3 a manager put a dish towel over her baby's face while she was breastfeeding.

"I was really upset.  I was speechless," Copeland said. "I always thought I would know what to do in that situation, but when it happened I had no idea what to do."

Many of Samantha's friends and other upset moms were planning on hosting a "nurse-in" at the IHOP as a protest. But to their surprise, the restaurant welcomed them in and hosted it's own "Nurse-in" Wednesday.

"We were originally going to have the 'Nurse-in' and come with our babies and help educate IHOP about breastfeeding mother’s rights and why breastfeeding is so important but they  decided to take their own action," said mom Aislinn Burton.

The restaurant also donated 25% of Wednesday's sales to the Consortium for Infant and Child Health's project, "Breastfeeding Welcome Here".

Shaik says he has also apologized to Samantha and says that apology is extended to all moms.

"The apology is sincere that day, the next day and today," Shaik said. "We fully support moms that nurse in our restaurant, they are welcomed in our restaurants and we are a family dining restaurants and we support that."

Shaik says all of his employees, including the manager in question, have already gone to training on how to better accommodate breastfeeding moms.

Shaik says the manager isn't getting into any trouble because he believes that education just wasn't there.

"Everything is a learning experience. The intention was only to help, not to harm anybody. It was a mistake, it was never a policy of IHOP."

When NewsChannel 3's Nadeen Yanes asked Samantha Copeland if she was going to attend the "Nurse-in", she responded back via saying no.

"We have decided to seek legal action and the "Nurse-in" has changed to a welcoming of breastfeeding to IHOP. We'd rather not support IHOP even if their intentions and actions are positive. To us it's more than breastfeeding."

Breastfeeding mom upset about treatment at Chesapeake restaurant