Grampa’s Pizzeria Extends Fig Leaf to Moms and Kids

New Willy Street business gives free pizza to atone for breastfeeding flap


The intimate table setting in Grampa’s main dining area was too close for one patron who complained about a breastfeeding diner.

Last week at Grampa’s Pizzeria, Managing Partner Marissa Johnson offered a breastfeeding patron a more private area to nurse after another patron had complained. According to an account published on the patron did not accept the offer and left soon after.

A small social media firestorm soon appeared on Facebook as some area mothers threatened to boycott the establishment. According to a state law passed in 2009 breastfeeding in public is a protected act and while Ms. Johnson may not have technically run afoul of the law in offering the woman an alternate location; the incident has inflamed passions on the Near East Side. 

If you ask most anyone they probably could not recite the breastfeeding statute. The new owners of Grampa’s admitted in an apology posted on Facebook it was one rule they were not familiar with as they prepared to open their restaurant these past few months.

After meeting with board members of the Breastfeeding Coalition of Southern Wisconsin Grampa’s Owner Gilbert Altschul and Johnson released the Facebook apology (shown below) and is offering free pizza for mothers and their children this afternoon (July 25) at their restaurant.

Hello everyone in Facebook land. There has been a lot of talk and speculation regarding our policies on breastfeeding. My fiance and I have just finished meeting with Alison Dodge co-founder of Happy Bambino and Alice Meyer, President, on behalf of the Breastfeeding Coalition of South Central Wisconsin. Last week when we offered a nursing mother a more private area to nurse her child we were entirely in the wrong and would like to apologize sincerely for any pain we may have caused her. At the time we were not aware of the laws regarding breastfeeding and will be sure not to make that mistake again. In our effort to make others feel more comfortable we singled out the nursing mother and that was completely unacceptable, hindsight is 20/20. As a peace offering I will be putting out complimentary pizzas for mothers and there children from 5:30 to 6:30 tomorrow evening. Please come check out our new restaurant and introduce yourself, I think you will find that we are very nice people who just made an innocent mistake. Also please remember that we replaced guns with pizza and I think that is a pretty good swap. Once again, our deepest apologies for any harm we may have caused and we look forward to meeting you tomorrow. Sincerely, Gilbert Altschul and Marissa Johnson

Reaction to the incident had moderated somewhat by Wednesday afternoon as comments on Grampa’s Facebook page seemed to accept their mea culpa.

 Opening a restaurant is a learning experience, the neighborhood could be more patient, understand mistakes will be made, while the owners get to know how to run a restaurant and what the neighborhood expects from a local restaurant. Given time Grandpa’s will adjust to the expectations of Willy street neighbors, I have met the owners, and they seem like really decent, inspired, hardworking people. The exact kind of business owners we want in our neighborhood. — Lynn Lee – Willy Street Business owner

As a Mama who nursed my daughter all over Madison, wherever I needed to, I commend you for realizing and admitting your mistake, and I will gladly patronize your business. Never have understood the discomfort with BFing in public–it’s not like anyone’s flashing their bare boobs around. It’s a baby eating the best possible food there is for them (until they’re old enough for pizza). Pro tip: If it bothers you, don’t look. Now if it were someone picking their nose or vigorously scratching their butt or spray-sneezing, I could see that being objectionable. But, even then, it’s still your option to just not look (except with the spray sneezing…that’s just wrong). — Caroline M. Sober-James

Messages to the BCSCW for comment were not returned at the time of publication. Grampa’s Facebook page had this post today:

I think today I am just going to cook some pizzas for a change : )

Update (July 25 10:25 p.m.): Owner Gilbert Altschul reported the outreach to moms and kids through free pizza went “Pretty good”.

Related: Opening Set For Grampa’s

Related: Grampa’s is open late

Related: MCBW: Potato Maibock and The Mickey Brat


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