August 4, 2010

"Postmortem: The CPK Incident" aka "Stop Your Boycott"

Bertrand says he is now cool with California Pizza Kitchen.
In celebration, his aunt Belinda styled him à la Jersey Shore.

Yesterday when I posted about our incident at California Pizza Kitchen, I didn't expect the response we got. The outpouring of love and support for Bertrand from everyone was amazing! We love you all in return. :) So many people called, emailed, tweeted, facebook-messaged and emailed us or CPK corporate about it.

CPK noticed.

Their corporate office apologized to Bertrand and our family, and they clarified that their no stroller policy doesn't cover such devices used for assistive mobility. Meaning: any assistive mobility device of Bertrand's is allowed. They "completely understand" why we would be upset.

We've accepted their apology and would like for everyone to move on. We never sanctioned a boycott of CPK and hope that those of you taking such action on our behalf will reconsider because their corporate charity (and the most ironic part of this fiasco) is the Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and life-altering injuries.

Also, in the interest of fairness, CPK's unwavering position was that since at one point at the very end of "the incident" we were offered a table outside in the bright sun and heat, we were not refused service. I disagree because I told the hostess that Bertrand was special needs and "he can't sit outside". Anyone who has a child with severe epilepsy--photosensitive at that--knows why Bertrand can't sit outside. We'd be having an ER visit rather than pizza for lunch. But, there you go, let it go on record that CPK says they didn't refuse us service.


The conversation with the CPK representative today reinforced that, as I briefly mentioned in yesterday's blog post, if I'd resorted to getting publicly upset and pressing the issue with the manager at the store, of course Bertrand would've been allowed to remain in his stroller and away from seizure triggers.

Now, I am not sure about anyone else, but would being forced to publicly explain to multiple strangers why your child is disabled and dying appeal to you? Could you keep your appetite? Would you feel like sitting and socializing after you've been forced to mentally relive the trauma of continuously struggling and failing to save your child's life?

Needless to say, nobody can "completely understand" our situation, no matter how well meaning. You'd think that after 2 years of struggling with Bertrand's condition I'd be able to "get over it", but I probably never will. Would you?

I feel like, after I've identified Bertrand as a special-needs/disabled child, I should just be able to say that "he can't sit in a highchair" or "he can't sit outside" and non-medical personnel should take me at my word. I shouldn't have to go into depth explaining the 700 plus pages of Bertrand's medical record to perfect stranger to justify anything. No other client is forced to do that, so why should I?

At Vienna Bistro, Bertrand has his own table and the staff loves him. The same goes at Einsteins (where he goes by the title "the cutest baby ever"), Melting Pot and The Metropolitan. I've never had to explain Bertrand's special needs at any of these restaurants, thereby retaining my appetite. Even though there are no hard feelings toward CPK, we'll be sticking to restaurants that don't require a painful explanation in order to be seated.


  1. You explain things so well, Cristina. You and Bertrand do a great service with your blogging, tweeting and interactions in public.

    Like I said on the previous post, I support not getting into it with the restaurant in the moment - not the most effective way to influence anyone, and, as you said, very unpleasant for you.

    I have not seen that 'boycotts' are effective for helping businesses realize the needs of the whole of their consumers. But real interaction, communication with the people of the business who have the power to do something - that is effective. Just what you did.

    And then move on. Barbara

  2. I think that sometimes a very short explanation can work wonders in situations like that, where you don't have to go into him medical history, and it is in terms others can understand.

    For example:
    "He can't sit on his own and can not be in sunlight because of a medical condition."

    I find most people take me at my word and hopefully don't pester me with questions.

    Well done.

  3. I just got home from vacation and had to read all about this...and it was all so familiar! 2 times while on vacation the resturants wanted us to leave the stroller at the front...and I told them Cole has seizures so he needed to stay in it and both times they shut their mouths pretty's annoying that we have to explain our wasnt' too much of a problem at the last 2 resturants...but one of the resturants in Disneyland tried to put up a fight (but then soon realized I was going to win!). I am sorry for their poor service. XOXO.

  4. Hi,
    Just recently read this episode on your blog and was very upset for you and for all special needs kids and their parents going through this. Just wanted to say that Bertrand is lucky to have such a great mom.
    Amy Holland Harley

  5. Thank you for taking the time out of your very busy and exhausting life to publicly share your insights. It is an education that so many of us need.

    Bless you and Bertrand and Matt.