Angry parents hit out at vegetarian cafe after it bans nappy changes

A New Zealand cafe has received a wave of backlash after staff told customers they are not allowed to change their children’s nappies in the restaurant’s bathroom.

The plant based cafe, Barley, in Palmerston North, placed a sign informing parents on the toilet door.

“This is not a nappy changing station,” the notice read, advising people to use facilities at the nearby plaza instead.

“Just remember the people who have to clean that mess are the same people that serve you food…”

According to the owner, Matt McNelis, the note led to a flurry of negative online reviews from upset parents, most of whom he claims have not ever dined at his restaurant.

“It's been brought to my attention that a notice on our bathrooms have caused widespread outrage, being posted to numerous groups and people who have never actually set foot in Barley to leave bad reviews on all forums,” Mr McNelis wrote on the Barley Facebook page.

The notice that caused "widespread outrage" at the New Zealand Barley cafe, according to the cafe owner. Source: Facebook

The owner went on to explain that the reason for the notice was because Barley was “aiming to become completely zero waste” and his staff had been impacted by a “spate” of nappies being shoved into sanitary bins.

Some patrons had tried to “flush them, blocking the toilets, leave them in the sinks, on the floor or behind the doors.”

Because of this, Mr McNelis said his staff were having “to stop service, don protective gear and thoroughly sanitise the facilities.”

Although the owner of the cafe said such incidents only occurred “on a few occasions”, he took the action of putting up the sign, which caused “widespread outrage” after doing the rounds on social media.

Mr McNeails said changing room facilities were available “a 30seconds (sic) walk from our door” and announced his staff would happily place used nappies in the recycling bin if asked but no customers had ever requested that.

The owner told local publication Stuff.co.nz that he had to cull nearly 30 negative reviews from the restaurant’s Trip Advisor page.

When people pointed out on Facebook that the sign made parents feel unwelcome, the owner stood his ground and said the bathroom was too small to install nappy changing facilities.

“To be clear, I will not be installing changing stations in our already small bathroom facilities and will continue to conduct my business as I see fit which is producing high quality and unique dishes from locally sourced ingredients,” Mr McNeails responded on Facebook.

The response on social media provoked a reaction of support and confusion.

“When did cafes become a crèche?” one person asked.

“Not hard to change a nappy in the car and dispose of it at home. Hardly calls for a bad review!” another responded.

“The sign could have been communicated better. If you don't want babies there then put a sign out front so parents can take their money elsewhere, it's simple,” a parent wrote.

“I really love your cafe, food and (usually your) philosophy but I'm about to become a mum soon and to be quite honest it would put me off going unfortunately,” another customer said.

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