A BASINGSTOKE mother was left feeling ‘disgusted and embarrassed’ after a restaurant in the town centre refused to serve her.

Demi-Jade North headed into Basingstoke town centre on Monday, April 26, with her three-old-daughter. She had planned to meet up with a friend to have lunch at Pizza Express and then look around the shops in Festival Place.

When Demi-Jade arrived at Pizza Express, she was allegedly informed by a member of staff that they would not seat her and her friend as they had a buggy with them which is was a ‘Covid hazard’.

Pizza Express deny the allegation and state 'everyone is welcome' if tables are available at the time diners want to eat. 

Basingstoke Gazette: Image: PAImage: PA

Demi-Jade told the Gaztte: “Nobody has seen much of anyone, so me one of my friends arranged to meet up for some lunch. We walked into town and because I have a toddler we need a buggy to be able to do that.

“We were going to go to Pizza Express for lunch but the waitress wouldn’t let us in because we had the buggy. She turned round and said that it was the new policy because there is not enough room for the buggy and it is a Covid hazard.”

The member of staff also told Demi that they had turned away another mother earlier on in the day for the same reason.

She added: “We were so embarrassed that we didn’t even want to try any of the other restaurants because we had just been turned away as willing paying customers. I have anxiety as it is, and it just makes me feel awkward, I didn’t like it. The only way I can describe how I felt was actually disgusted, it’s appalling.”

Demi is concerned about the implications this will have on new mums who struggle to get out the house without pushchairs.

“What about all the mums that have got new-borns and can’t leave the house without a buggy? Are they not allowed to catch up with friends and family that they haven’t seen?

“There’s loads of people that have just had babies and their hormones can be all over the place and getting turned away from somewhere is really not a nice feeling. It makes you feel like you’ve done something wrong.

“I’ve worked in hospitality if that was me I’d say right okay, we’ve got two tables free if the buggy is taking up that much space we just won’t put someone on the next table until you’re finished.”

A spokesperson for Pizza Express told the Gazette: “The al fresco dining area at our Festival Place restaurant in Basingstoke allows for four tables of two guests and is under the restrictions and guidance of the shopping centre.

"On this occasion, the al fresco dining area did not have the space to accommodate the two guests and the buggy as it was already at capacity. Allowing the two guests in would have taken the number of diners over the shopping centres restricted capacity rules.  

“We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused. Everyone is welcome in our al fresco dining area if tables are available and there is space to dine and serve safely. We look forward to welcoming more guests on the 17th of May when we open for indoor dining.”