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Babies/Children in Restaurants (merged topic)


Mark Sommelier
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Heck, at our wedding we didn't even invite our own kid. :biggrin:

I don't see it in this thread, but there is an "equal and opposite" to the stereotypically self-centered parent who doesn't realize that his or her child is creating a unacceptable ruckus, and that's the self-centered adult who doesn't realize that children are part of life and that exiling them and their parents from polite society is neither necessary or desitreable. I remember once taking my (then) 2-year-old to a hip little joint in Philly and having a waiter so freaked out that he turned our table over to another server. There are people so hypersensitive that the mere sight of a child causes them to break out into vapours -- they remind me the Roald Dahl book, "The Witches."

As so often happens, having little tolerance and taking real responsibility go a long way, and would make restaurants and coffee shops a pleasant place for different types of people to enjoy.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Heck, at our wedding we didn't even invite our own kid.  :biggrin:

I don't see it in this thread, but there is an "equal and opposite" to the stereotypically self-centered parent who doesn't realize that his or her child is creating a unacceptable ruckus, and that's the self-centered adult who doesn't realize that children are part of life and that exiling them and their parents from polite society is neither necessary or desitreable.    I remember once taking my (then) 2-year-old to a hip little joint in Philly and having a waiter so freaked out that he turned our table over to another server.  There are people so hypersensitive that the mere sight of a child causes them to break out into vapours -- they remind me the Roald Dahl book, "The Witches." 

As so often happens, having little tolerance and taking real responsibility go a long way, and would make restaurants and coffee shops a pleasant place for different types of people to enjoy.

Totally. And kids should be welcome in adult places (you know, most adult places - let's not go overboard and include bars here :wink: ) if they are behaving well. It's really important, especially if you want to raise a little foodie who enjoys a good meal out! :biggrin:

As an adult who as a child was taken to many restaurants, theatre productions and movies, I appreciate that children need to experience these things in order to grow and learn.

I hope I haven't come across as anti-child - I'm more anti-annoying-parents-who-think-their-own-enjoyment-is-more-important-than-everyone-else's. :laugh:

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Interesting topic. There has been a lot of local press here in Chicago about a restaurant(I can't remember the name) that has put a sign in it's window that states children have to behave and speak in "quiet" voices. The press has been beating the restaurant owner up over this. So far, he has held to his position.

As to when children are old enough to be included in these situations, I do not think there is a certain age when they are ready. Children vary in maturity levels and in many cases there are 8-10 year olds perfectly capable of dealing with fine dining and there are probably 14-15 year old not ready. I really think the problem is the parents. The parents have to make these decisions. And unfortunately, many parents are incapble of making the decision.

It is too bad the the one who suffers is the restauranteur who is damned if he does something about aggravating children and damned if he doesn't. All I can do is find out the name of the place in Chicago and patronize it and let the resturanteur know why I am there.

"the only thing we knew for sure about henry porter was that his name wasn't henry porter" : bob

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Interesting topic.  There has been a lot of local press here in Chicago about a restaurant(I can't remember the name) that has put a sign in it's window that states children have to behave and speak in "quiet" voices.  The press has been beating the restaurant owner up over this.  So far, he has held to his position.

Osnav, I believe the cafe is "A Taste of Heaven," and a piece in the NY Times on it is what prompted the resurgence of this topic! Read a bit upthread, and you should find some specific discussion about it! :biggrin:

As to when children are old enough to be included in these situations, I do not think there is a certain age when they are ready.  Children vary in maturity levels and in many cases there are 8-10 year olds perfectly capable of dealing with fine dining and there are probably 14-15 year old not ready. .

Good point!

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I've been thinking about cultural differences with this subject, too. We eat Szechuan and/or Vietnamese every weekend in Seattle's International District, and both restauarants we patronize usually have quite a few kids there. These little Asian/Asian-American kids are absolute angels. I mean, I've never seen such consistantly well mannered, sweet little kids, even the really young ones. But the few Anglo-American kids that come in the door, there's running around, broken glasses, knocked over chairs, crying, etc. The difference is extraordinary. I've been trying to think about my restaurant experiences in France, Italy, and other countries to further compare cultural differences but I can't recall seeing many kids in European restauarants.

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So much disdain and hostility toward kids and families with kids

trying to socialize said kids.........

And berating of un-socialized kids.....

And people wonder why the fertility rates (and thus the population)

of "advanced" industrial societies are declining....

As a former child and as a parent, I have to confess that I have never felt that "disdain and hostility toward kids and families with kids" was a general feature of my society. If anything, I think people in my culture tend to view with suspicion people who, for whatever reason, decide not to have children.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I've been thinking about cultural differences with this subject, too. We eat Szechuan and/or Vietnamese every weekend in Seattle's International District, and both restauarants we patronize usually have quite a few kids there. These little Asian/Asian-American kids are absolute angels. I mean, I've never seen such consistantly well mannered, sweet little kids, even the really young ones. But the few Anglo-American kids that come in the door, there's running around, broken glasses, knocked over chairs, crying, etc. The difference is extraordinary. I've been trying to think about my restaurant experiences in France, Italy, and other countries to further compare cultural differences but I can't recall seeing many kids in European restauarants.

I have often heard that being white leads to behavioral problems.. :blink:

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I've been thinking about cultural differences with this subject, too. We eat Szechuan and/or Vietnamese every weekend in Seattle's International District, and both restauarants we patronize usually have quite a few kids there. These little Asian/Asian-American kids are absolute angels. I mean, I've never seen such consistantly well mannered, sweet little kids, even the really young ones. But the few Anglo-American kids that come in the door, there's running around, broken glasses, knocked over chairs, crying, etc. The difference is extraordinary. I've been trying to think about my restaurant experiences in France, Italy, and other countries to further compare cultural differences but I can't recall seeing many kids in European restauarants.

I have often heard that being white leads to behavioral problems.. :blink:

That explains ME! I should let my mom know... :wink:

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Folks, I think that we in this international conversation probably can be most productive without making broadly drawn references to entire cultural groups and their purported characteristics. Let's stick to discussing broadly drawn references to entire age-based groups (i.e., kids) and their purported characteristics, shall we? :biggrin:

To that end, I think that many young children who lack a sense of the importance of mealtimes as opportunities for important social experiences -- sharing, bonding, talking, listening -- might be those most likely to disturb the others who are there for those very purposes. I haven't read the whole thread, but I'm sure that someone's referenced the reduced amount of family time spent at the table together in US life, in particular. Wouldn't those kids who have few social experiences related to food be most likely to act out in restaurants?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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...

To that end, I think that many young children who lack a sense of the importance of mealtimes as opportunities for important social experiences -- sharing, bonding, talking, listening -- might be those most likely to disturb the others who are there for those very purposes. I haven't read the whole thread, but I'm sure that someone's referenced the reduced amount of family time spent at the table together in US life, in particular. Wouldn't those kids who have few social experiences related to food be most likely to act out in restaurants?

And I think there is another rather mundane point that I'm not sure has been brought up recently. When I was a child, my parents and many others then, believed in naps and bedtimes for younger children. Many parents I know nowadays do not schedule naptimes or earlyish bedtimes for their kids. Often when I see a child acting out in public they are obviously bleary-eyed and whiney through a serous sleep deficit. This may be exacerbated by working parents who drag their children around and about all weekend or until late at night during the week. (It is a difficult connundrum re: having to run errands on a busy schedule, but I think some effort should be made to not overtire kids). I feel very sorry for the children who often seem quite miserable even as they are making others miserable in their wake. A well-rested child, I think, would solve half the problems that one witnessess in places like coffeeshops.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I'm kind of sorry that the topics were combined to include restaurants as well as coffee shops. (That happened before the merge, I guess.) I think coffee shops, at least in the US where you don't have to pay extra for a table, have a special problem because people expect to be able to camp out there all day while buying and consuming (if they want) very little stuff. At least in a restaurant with table service, a meal comes to an end at which point people are expected to leave. Also, you have a lot more problems with groups of people taking over a coffee shop. These can be people with kids, teenagers, retirees, whatever. But people who are inclined not to supervise their small children are going to be worse in coffee shops than in a restaurant, I think, especially when the restaurant becomes a home away from home that you can resort to to get relief from the pressures of being home alone with small kids.

I do feel for coffee shop owners. I don't know what you're supposed to do when you start to get a critical mass of regulars that are a pain and driving out the people you thought you were running the business for. Play a kind of music they're apt to hate at a little louder volume for a while? Move to another neighborhood?

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Read some of the recent comments. I have three children 13, 10 and 3. I will usually take them the kid friendly places (Applebees, Chilis....). Somewhere if one has a blowout or is speaking too loudly, it doesn't make much difference because other kids are doing the same. I'm not saying I don't try to nip the behaviour in the bud but there are times when it happens.

I usually don't bring my kids to "adult" restaurants, but there are times when I have, (when we are having a good day). Some places were great, the waiters paying that little extra attention to the kids, (getting them shirley temples w/extra cherries in a small glass, or bringing their food out right away, or a small plate of nibbles for them) some places have stuck us in the least desirable area like we were lepers, and treated us as such.

I guess there is an expectation, at least with me, as to the type of place I'm going to and the mood of the place. I don't expect to have a quiet meal at Chevy's, even if I was there with just my husband, but I would at a local bistro.

As for the wedding "no kids" invite. When we got married we did not have children attend the reception. It was from 6-11pm, we were paying for the whole thing. I've been to too many wedding where the kids are screaming to go home by 8:00 because they are tired, or they are sticking their fingers in the cake or rolling around on the dance floor, or they are hungry because there were no chicken fingers.

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This is such a hard topic for me. I agree that adults should be able to enjoy a nice dinner in peace. What is hardest for me is the subtle (and at times not so subtle) notion that if parents do all the right things, their children will behave in a manner deemed appropriate to a non-child focused venue.

My son has Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of Autism. He is often very loud and out of control outside of our home and I can't tell you the number of evil stares I get from those around me. I've even had perfect strangers tell me I needed to spank him. I draw a very hard line at home and outside and believe me, do all the right things to ensure that he has better behavior. I've been told by professional behavioralists that my parenting is as good as can be, given his limitations. But the judgement from others who don't know me and my son is saddening. I don't take him to nicer restaurants and possibly never will, as I'm not sure he'll ever gain the ability to control himself enough that it would be fair to other diners. I remove him when we're out and he gets too loud or out of control. I work hard to make sure that his behavior doesn't affect others negatively. It's very isolating, as there aren't many places we can take him successfully.

My son is not the norm in any way, but I wish others would understand that there are other children like him to appear to be just fine but lacking in parenting and discipline, when in fact there are other issues at work. I point this out so others are perhaps less quick to judge parents and their children. Even one kind look or word truly means the world when you have a child who is acting out, other issues or not.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I've even had perfect strangers tell me I needed to spank him.

That is just shocking and beyond inappropriate.

Tejon, thank you for sharing your story - I'm sure this will make some of us think twice before delivering evil looks of our own.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Interesting example of a wedding as a kid-free zone. Kids were welcome at our wedding, in part because my step son (who was 7 at the time) was there and in part because I specifically wanted children there. I was, after all, getting married to start a family.

We had a great time: a short ceremony (punctuated by one small voice asking his mommy why he had to sit down when I got to stand up in the front), great dinner (caterer did not include kids under 12 in the head count, so no financial hit), and dance party with a band outside. Young adults (who were then small children) still describe seeing me as "the bride" and their parents recall ruining clothes from too much dancing.

Kids made it more fun, not less.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Therefore, when your child acts up in a coffeehouse and won't calm down, you should take them outside until they do, or take them home.  It bites for you in that you won't be able to sit and enjoy your coffee in peace, but that's the trade-off you make for having those beautiful children that you love.

I agree. Some parents seem to think that although they have a child, they should be able to go on doing everything the way they did it before the child was there. Well, you can't, you made a choice. And yes, in the western world we live in, having children is, for most people, a choice.

I chose not to have children.

I can enjoy my coffee, my dinner, and many other things in peace. But I will never have the experience of being a mother. That's my trade-off and I am happy with it, even if for many people I know this is hard to understand.

You can't have it all.

edited to add: for me, the setting makes all the difference. A really nice restaurant where I will be paying a lot of money for a romantic dinner with my husband...the noisy children would annoy me. The coffeehouse, the bar (yes, ever more parents seem to bring their children to bars lately, while they are drinking beer the children are getting bored :shock: ) is fine by me.

Edited by Chufi (log)
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...

Even one kind look or word truly means the world when you have a child who is acting out, other issues or not.

Thank you for sharing this, Tejon.

I try to make this my first automatic response. Sometimes just smiling at a child even startles them out of their behaviour, or as you say, at least gives the sometimes frazzeled parent a little break from all the evil looks. I know that you have a special challenge so I don't mean to compare situations directly.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Interesting example of a wedding as a kid-free zone. Kids were welcome at our wedding, in part because my step son (who was 7 at the time) was there and in part because I specifically wanted children there. I was, after all, getting married to start a family.

We had a great time: a short ceremony (punctuated by one small voice asking his mommy why he had to sit down when I got to stand up in the front), great dinner (caterer did not include kids under 12 in the head count, so no financial hit), and dance party with a band outside. Young adults (who were then small children) still describe seeing me as "the bride" and their parents recall ruining clothes from too much dancing.

Kids made it more fun, not less.

At our wedding, children were also specifically invited and welcome (I have a huge extended family). We even had cake and dancing at a children's science museum at which I had volunteered for years. We had a one and a half hour Catholic service in terrible heat (the church wasn't air conditioned-- you don't expect 99 degree June weather in Michigan), and cranky kids were taken outside when necessary. Everyone had a great time. Having said that, however, I do believe that a couple certainly has every right to request no children at a wedding. That's perfectly fine. As a parent, I can decide whether I am able to make arrangements for childcare and go, or choose not to go because of my parental duties.

As for restaurants, I only bring my children to places where children will not be out of place. It's not fair to other patrons who are spending their hard-earned money (Lord knows on those rare occasions when my husband and I go somewhere nice, I'd rather not have screaming kids running around). In addition, I also believe that it's not fair to the kids-- we stress politeness with them, we all sit down to a family dinner every night and they are learning table manners-- but it's still not fair to the best behaved of small children to expect them to sit still and be quiet for up to two hours at a nice restaurant. You end up with miserable kids, miserable customers, and at least as far as I'm concerned, miserable parents.

My oldest child is nearly five. He is generally well behaved, and as he gets older, I take him to diners and family restaurants now without any real problem. Perhaps when he's older and I am confident in his table manners and ability behave appropriately, I'll bring him to places slightly more upscale. My one year old, while generally calm and easy going, goes out with me much less frequently because she is so young. If she cries and makes a fuss, my husband or I take her outside, even in a family place. If she can't settle down, we leave. To avoid this, we don't take her out much. We will as she gets older.

I generally do not find American culture of the lower Midwest (currently I live in Oklahoma) to be hostile to children. As long as I behave appropriately with my children, adults are friendly and tolerant here-- and little old ladies go gaga over my curly-haired children :-) Even on those rare occasions at work (I'm a professor) when I have to haul a kid in, students and other professors are understanding and helpful.

One final word-- as for coffee houses, I would not go simply because I can picture the one year old tipping over someone's hot coffee. Yikes! No fun for her or the person in question.

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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I have 3 kids, ages 8, 6 and 3, with one more coming in about 6 weeks.

I expect my kids to behave in restaurants and coffee shops... but I have reasonable expectations too. I don't expect small children to sit quietly and eat, but I do expect them to try to use indoor voices, expect them to stay seated unless it's an emergency and to be polite. I expect them to be a bit fidgety, ask to go to tbe restroom a few times. and wiggle just a bit when they've been sitting still too long. If they start to act up, they get 1 warning, and then they go outside

As a parent, what really hacks me off are the kinds of parents that let their kids run around restaurants, roughhouse, throw things and in general be rude. It's a lot harder for me to keep control of my horde when there are kids running around pushing each ohter.

We were recently at a family style restaurant, already seated with our food, when this couple comes in with their sons, about the same age as our older two, and sits at a table next to us. Their kids ended up roughhousing with each other, knocking over chairs, running and fighting. The parents never said a word to their kids, even after one of them nearly knocked over my daughter's high chair. I was pretty hacked off.

I can understand some wiggling and loudness out of preschool aged kids, but 8 and 6 year olds should know better, and their parents should have at least attempted to correct their children rather than ignoring them.

Cheryl

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I agree. Some parents seem to think that although they have a child, they should be able to go on doing everything the way they did it before the child was there. Well, you can't, you made a choice. And yes, in the western world we live in, having children is, for most people, a choice.

One of my friends has a theory that part of the reason we see much more of this behavior in parents in the last decade or so is that so many couples here in the US are waiting till much later in life (later 30's, even early 40's) to have children, so they are more entrenched in their habits than younger parents and it's thus harder for them to give up going to the nice restaurants, concerts etc when little ones come along.

I don't think it expains everything, but it's a theory...

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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I've even had perfect strangers tell me I needed to spank him.

That is just shocking and beyond inappropriate.

Tejon, thank you for sharing your story - I'm sure this will make some of us think twice before delivering evil looks of our own.

You have amazing restraint! I would have spanked those strangers in public for suggesting such a thing!

I am a mother of three and we have learned to gauge where the children are at any given moment. Would I ever take them to a 5 star, no way, when we go out like that its to forget we have children....if just for a moment. :raz: BUT if the baby just fell asleep for example we can sneak in a nice relaxing coffee in the afternoon somewhere nice etc.

The roll your eyes crowd entertain me if I feel it is unwarranted, some people just don't like kids but we also know when its time to call it a day.

-A

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One of my friends has a theory that part of the reason we see much more of this behavior in parents in the last decade or so is that so many couples here in the US are waiting till much later in life (later 30's, even early 40's) to have children, so they are more entrenched in their habits than younger parents and it's thus harder for them to give up going to the nice restaurants, concerts etc when little ones come along. 

I don't think it expains everything, but it's a theory...

I think there's something to be said for this theory. And I think it might also somehow be connected to parents' unwillingness to get babysitters when they want to go out. They are, in fact, older and wiser, and so reluctant to leave the kids in the care of strangers.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Despite my example upthread of a kid-inclusive wedding I'm actually very cool with specifically excluding children from events. We have a big holiday party every year, and as part of the FAQ that I send out soon after the original invite (I do it by eVite---it may be geeky, but it's incredibly convenient for my guests and me) I point out that "babes in arms are welcome but others will be more comfortable at home tucked in bed". Absolutely no question about whether or not a sitter's in order.

That I have children (and am clearly very into them) makes me immune to any suggestion that excluding children is motivated by anything other than my concern for their happiness. And for the most part it is. :wink:

Can you pee in the ocean?

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I know kids will misbehave sometimes and I don't have a problem with that -- unless the parents are completely tuning this kid out or, even worse, telling strangers to just deal with it because there is nothing they can do to change the behavior.

As long as a parent is making a good faith effort to correct the behavior, I don't care if a child is being loud or unruly. I just don't like it when parents assume that because they can tune out their kids that anyone can.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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I'm glad this topic was given new life recently but I do have to sadly report that I've wasted an entire evening reading all of this. Although all opinions and anecdotes are always welcome, and I'm not dumping on anyone for theirs, I've noticed that 2 and a half years and fifteen pages later there doesn't seem to be any real answer to Mark's original question..... What is a restaurant owner to do in this situation?

I'm quite suprised it hasn't been brought up yet, but small children running under foot of a server carrying scalding food and beverages (in an upscale restaurant, mind you, where they cannot reasonably be expected to dodge rapidly moving obstactles as a server in a family oriented place would be expected to do so) is an accident waiting to happen and is most certainly a liability issue for the restaurant. Suppose that hot pot of coffee is accidentally dropped on a child's head, burning him and scarring him permanently, heaven forbid. Would the restaurant be liable? To the best of my knowledge, in all jurisdictions in North America, the answer would be YES. And why?.... Because the restaurant allowed that child to be running under foot unattended and would therefore be responsible for any accidents. In the same vein, some people may think food-throwing is just something that children do, but forks are generally just as easily at hand as a child's food is. And having been the recipient of a thrown fork quite recently that, had it not missed me and had lodged itself in my eyeball instead blinding me permanently, you'd better believe I'd sue. I'm not a sue-happy person but losing an eyeball at dinner would probably incite me to become one. And before anybody decides to ridicule the preposterousness of the possibility of such an unfortunate event, let me remind you I cite this an an example because it is a completely possible scenario, as I've witnessed.

So, now that we've established that a restaurant can in no way, shape or form allow this behaviour of any patron in order to protect its own financial interests, I do have a suggestion for you that might help solve a problem before it starts:

Considering you're at an upscale, trendy restaurant, I expect it's fair to say that most customers do end up waiting a few moments before being seated, whether they have reservations or not. Use this to your advantage. Parties with smaller children who are left waiting a few moments can easily be guaged as to the type of behaviour you can expect for the rest of the evening. If the child/ren cannot sit still or are being disruptive while waiting to be seated and the parents do nothing, then you just don't seat them, period. The hostess can inform the parents that they're being too disruptive and that it's a liability issue for the restaurant. Nothing wrong with this, and in fact I expect your insurance carrier would agree. If the parents are upset by it and promise to never return, well then you really win! If you're upscale and trendy someone else with well behaved children will walk in the door in 2 minutes anyways.

I'm speaking of very small children here, but children that pass the "5 minute wait test" should of course be seated with their family, and the Windows on the World approach mentioned pages and pages ago should then be adopted. After all, if you let them in and serve them you should be prepared to cater to their needs and entertain them as well as any other patron. Immediately they should be occupied with something inexpensive (on the house) to keep them entertained, such as a fancy umbrella drink (non-alcoholic - see below) or a very light hors d'oeuvre. Consider it inexpensive crankiness insurance. And seat them near a window or something interesting, and have the servers engage them as readily as they would an adult patron. After that, leave it to the parents.

Then, if all hell breaks loose later on and the parents do nothing, one warning to remain seated/not throw things/not spit/scream/crap their diaper then proceed to wander around the restaurant removing their own diaper because Mommy's too busy to change it (ugh....been in that restaurant too!). One warning....after that you just have to throw them out. It's a relatively simple concept, really. You can't allow other patrons to behave that way so why is it acceptable for children? Quite simply put, it isn't, because you're liable for everything they do.

I've never understood the age-old adage that "the customer is always right" and other such nonsense. 95% of the time the customer is right, and you should bend over backwards to please them, but the other 5% are just dickheads that you can easily replace with better customers by not accomodating them, by not rewarding bad behaviour. I cannot understand why businesses are so afraid to stand up for themselves, especially in this day and age of frivolous lawsuits being so common. If your customer puts up a fuss, just keep the business' best interests in mind and, if you have to, pull out the big guns and cite liability issues, insurance issues, or health department requirements. (as in the case of the diaper incident I witnessed.) I don't undersand why this is such a hard concept for some people to grasp. It's YOUR restaurant. Act like it.

Having said all that, I do happen to be one of those people who thinks children SHOULD go to restaurants. I went to upscale places when I was quite small, and there was never an issue. But then again, I wasn't ever allowed to get up from the dinner table at home or scream at the top of my lungs or throw things either, so I'm pretty sure it never occured to me to do it in public. Just never happened. And I'm sure I wasn't taken to restaurants until I was able to sit at the table at home properly, either. And while I agree that parents should put a little more effort into parenting and should understand their children's limits, we cannot expect every restaurant patron to overnight become mature enough to in fact be parents, so businesses need to take it upon themselves to do the policing within their own walls instead. And any other business is fully within reason to exercise these rights, so why not restaurants as well?

Well I hope that offers at least some semblance of an answer for you. And on a more horrifying note......

I got drunk for the first time when I was six. My brother, 2 years my senior, my sister, 1 year my senior, myself, my grandmother and my dad were in a restaurant on some sort of family trip. As all 3 of us kids were into eating just about anything and always delighted in these excursions, we'd usually watch what others were being served and then declare something to the effect of "oooh I want to have that!!! Dad would usually oblige, figuring he was broadening our culinary horizons, quite correctly of him. This particular occasion it was big fancy umbrella drink served inside carved-out pineapples, with brightly coloured fruit skewered onto plastic swizzle sticks. I distinctly remember how entertained I was that my beverage was considerably larger than my head. I also distinctly remember it tasted like coconut milk, which I hated, but found remarkably easy to drink nonetheless. I don't remember anything else, but I do recall the story being retold by my father and grandmother many many times with disgust, and the notion of my grandmther's that I could quite possibly have drowned after taking a full unconscious header into my soup bowl after passing out drunk. Yup, they served us kids the real deal, and I drank the whole thing, at six years old, before anyone at the table noticed what was in it. I guess it was the restaurant's way of "quieting the kiddies" in case we were to later become unruly. :shock:

On a lighter note, regarding cellphones in movie theatres..... simply declare in a very LOUD voice that the entire audience can hear that the offender is to GET OFF THE PHONE NOW!!! I promise you, public humiliation still goes a long way these days, and your 5 second outburst and subsequent laughter is usually over far quicker than that phone call would've been, so don't think of yourself as being disruptive if you do it. You're actually shortening the duration of the disruption, and that is a public service. Works every time. :biggrin:

Edited to say: I'm sorry this is so long. Also edited to say that although restaurants may be and should be inclusive of children, they should just simply keep the liability issue in mind as leverage if they find they have no other recourse. I still believe well behaved people of any age should be welcomed anywhere. Hope that clarifies.

Edited by Sugarella (log)
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