Chipotle Lacks Diaper Changing Table, Mom Changes Toddler On The Dining Table Instead

Chipotle has a kids’ menu with tiny quesadillas and organic milk, and offers high chairs in its dining rooms. They seemed to Chad like an establishment that welcomes and accommodates families with small children. When his wife took their 16-month-old daughter for a diaper change, though, she found no changing table. So she did the logical thing and changed the tot’s dirty diaper on a table in the dining area. Wait, what?

Chad sent us a copy of his letter to Chipotle’s headquarters, which is too long to reproduce here. This all went down at a restaurant in the Midwest, and Chad tells us that the location is pretty new, having opened in the last year or so. In the letter, he admits that his wife’s decision to change the kid in the dining area was “unsavory,” and apologizes for any health code violations that she may have caused, and for any inconvenience to the employees who had to sanitize the table.

Yet he defends her decision in his letter, and defended it to the (horrified) Chipotle employees as well. He concluded that they must not have children of their own based on their shock at his wife’s actions, and their apparently unacceptable suggestions for alternative diaper-changing spots. For example: they asked why the family couldn’t use their car. In his letter, he complained to Chipotle that the employees showed an

inability/unwillingness to empathize with parents who find [the car] a less convenient alternative even on a beautiful day like yesterday, much less a subfreezing day as we undoubtedly will have in [this region] this winter.

Consumerist consulted with the ultimate experts in this area: a number of parents of toddlers and former toddlers, who didn’t buy Chad’s arguments and pointed out the many alternatives. One could, for example, change the diaper while the child is standing up, or lay a changing pad on the bathroom floor. (This option does depend on your ability to get up from kneeling on the floor, and isn’t for everyone.) If the diaper isn’t a poop-laden catastrophe, it could wait until the family can get to another public restroom that does have a changing table. If it is a poop-laden catastrophe, exposing the entire dining room to that is gross.

The incident ended with the manager on duty telling Chad’s family that if they tried another dining room diaper change, they would immediately be asked to leave. That’s fine, Chad noted, because he wouldn’t be coming back until a changing table was in place. He pointed out in his letter that competitor Qdoba does have changing tables.

In a similar incident in Texas just last month, a family was kicked out of a pizza restaurant on their first diaper-changing offense. “I don’t want to lose all these other customers because they see a dirty diaper,” one employee there told a local TV station.

The real question that this incident raises is whether Chipotle restaurants normally have a changing table. The official answer: they do not.

Chipotle responded to Chad’s original letter with the following:

Thank you for reaching out to us. I’m sorry to hear that you and your family don’t feel as comfortable in our restaurants having a little one that might need changing. I can completely understand that it’s a hassle to find a way to change your daughter, and agree, that there are simply no alternatives as convenient as an actual changing table. We are currently in the process of retrofitting locations with changing tables, but I understand that this is not a very timely solution. I will forward your email to our [city] restaurant team, so they can understand where you come from, to maybe ease some of the tension. As you can understand it might be disconcerting for other customers to see a child getting changed directly on the tables, and we want to provide all of our customers with an exceptional experience.

We hope that we get to see you again soon, and that we find a good resolution that makes everyone happy.

When Chad wrote back and pressed for a precise date, they couldn’t give him one.

Separately, we contacted Chipotle’s communications department about the changing table question, and they confirmed that most restaurants in the chain don’t have changing tables, but they are considering it.

We are testing them in a handful of restaurants and our design team is looking to incorporate them into new restaurants that are in locations where we are likely to see a high concentration of families as customers.

It’s interesting that the bathrooms weren’t designed with changing tables from the outset, but maybe the program will leave the test phase and they’ll roll out more across the country.

Please, though, nobody hold diaper-in protests to pressure Chipotle to do it. People eat there.

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  1. CzarChasm says:

    I wonder if Chad would be ok if I peed on his table if the bathrooms were out of order. It seems his attitude is “If you don’t make it convenient for me, I’ll do what I want.”

  2. oomingmak says:

    Everyone is in the wrong here. Chipotle for not providing a changing table but also the family for making the ridiculous decision to change the diaper up on a tabletop. Two wrong don’t make a right and Chad and his family should have been instantly kicked out IMO.

    • webalias says:

      Agreed they should have been kicked out, and that two wrongs don’t make a right. But I’m not sure the “wrongs” are equivalent here, or that Chipolte did anything wrong at all. Restaurants must comply with a vast array of health and building codes that specify size, location and accessibility requirements for restroom facilities. But restaurants are not required to provide baby changing stations under federal law, or the laws of any state that I am aware of. If a family considers this amenity essential to their dining-out experience, they should find a restaurant that provides it — many restaurants do. I can’t help but wonder: If these parents feel entitled to publicly change their child’s diaper because a restaurant didn’t provide a changing station, would they feel equally entitled to do the same anywhere there is a restroom where a changing station is not provided? How about in the middle of a Department store (maybe the perfume counter would be a good place). Or a movie theatre (personally, I’d prefer to witness somebody texting, than diaper-changing). Or how about in a pew (no pun intended) during a Sunday morning church service (lets unfold that dirty diaper, right after the three-fold amen).

      • CzarChasm says:

        This is pretty much what I was getting at, and I wonder if they apply it to more things than just their baby? Don’t have dog waste bags at the park? leave it where it is. Trash bin overflowing? Throw it on the ground. I’d bet he doesn’t walk his shopping carriage back to the building, that’s not convenient, just push it into someones car. Recycling? That’s for suckers, two separate bins? Please.

        “I only do things that are easy for me”
        -Homer Simpson/Chad

        While I know it would never happen, it would have made me rofl if Chipolte’s response, instead of an apology, was to tell him he was never welcome in any of their locations ever again.

  3. mzmoose says:

    While I kind of like CzarChasm’s idea, the thing that bugs me is that given that Chipotle has not bothered to put changing tables in the bathrooms, I’m guessing that now they’re only going to put in one – in the women’s bathroom. It’s disturbing how infrequently there are changing tables in the men’s room. It’s as if some people don’t think men are actually fathers.

  4. C0Y0TY says:

    “Honey, check to see if there’s a changing table before we go in there.” Would have saved a lot of trouble. Unless they wanted to be babies about it and had to have their Chipotle.

  5. Pitcherhill says:

    Did anyone ask the mother if she changed diapers on her dining table at home? Maybe she just felt right at home at Chipotle…

  6. Grey says:

    It’s baffling that someone who behaves so poorly would seek approval on the internet for what they did. It shows just how disconnected from society they really are.

    Just Google “Chipotle Chad diaper” to see what kind of support you have, Chad.

    And by the way, there is nothing convenient about having children. You’ll do yourself a favor if you stop expecting it to be easy. It’s not meant to be.