Jason Desroches and his family at Flips restaurant
Credits: Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
BRAMPTON, Ont. - A Brampton father said he recently brought his wife and 16-month-old daughter to Flips breakfast restaurant and a server refused them entry because they had a baby stroller with them.
"We showed up at 7:30 a.m. on a weekday and there was no lineup," Jason Desroches said. "We asked to speak to the manager. She said their insurance doesn't allow for strollers. We were told we had to go because of the stroller."
Desroches, 32, was baffled because he had never heard of this kind of policy before, which he said is discriminatory towards new parents.
"There's no sign when you walk in," he said. "There's nothing unusual about family restaurants letting strollers in. We've gone everywhere with strollers. I've completely boycotted the place."
A manager at the 17-year -old business, who would only identify himself as "Bill" on the phone, said the policy is based on legal advice.
"We can refuse any patrons, our lawyer said, for any reason whatsoever," Bill said. "It's not a public place."
In a follow-up phone call, the manager said Flips allows for seeing-guide dogs and wheelchairs "because that's common sense," but for safety reasons, bans skateboards, rollerblades, and baby strollers.
"Our place is extremely small," Bill said. "We're fair. We've had people on rollerblades come in here, falling down on tables and next thing you know, lawsuits. We don't have anyone ever make a big stink (over the rules)."
Restaurants denying parents services because their child is in a stroller could be classified as discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code, said Toronto human rights lawyer Selwyn Pieters.
"All establishments in Ontario that provide a service is covered under the code," Pieters said.
"As long as it's not an adult-only establishment, and they're just discriminating because they don't like the idea of strollers in there or children disturbing other customers having supper, that could be a case of discrimination.
"These establishments ought to take measures to accommodate families to the point of undue hardship."
Desroches' wife, Andrea Chilcott, wants Flips to change its policy. The couple is planning a peaceful protest outside the restaurant and also considering suing the eatery for discrimination.
"If you're not going to allow stroller, make the public aware of it," Chilcott said. "I'd like to see the no-stroller policy lifted because it's unfair to young children."