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Babies/Children in Restaurants (merged topic)


Mark Sommelier
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I never thought I would see something like what I witnessed on Friday on the upstairs section of "Babbo."
OK, I'll bite. What was so shocking?
Around 6:30--7pm, there was a little boy at Babbo with his own sippy cup.  By the time I  got there, the parents and the baby were already having dessert.  I was totally shocked.  The kid was a kid and he started acting up a little....
How were you able to hear him over the music?

Forewarned and all...I'm taking my daughter to Artisinal on 8/7. Those of you who might be offended by the sight of an eight-year-old scarfing fondue would be advised to make reservations elsewhere that night. :wink:

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I really do not care for kids in nice restaurants. I actually do not think they should be admitted. They can ruin the atmosphere that a restaurant might be trying to achieve for the customers. 

You may choose to be in denial about it, but this is a classic example of

ageism. Like any other "ism", it is a prejudice about

a group of persons, based solely

on membership in that group (young age in this case),

and irrespective of their actual behaviors; seeking to

limit their participation.

(By your own description the child was acting up only "a little";

and we are not talking about a child in any dangerous place or

legally disallowed environment like a casino gambling area.)

People may be horrified by racial profiling or religious

discrimination, or gender inequality, pr prejudice

against the disabled.

Ageism shares many features with these , though

potentially everyone can experience age discrimination,

(unlike race or gender)

either as a very young child, or as a much older adult.

Would you dream of repeating your statement above, and instead

of "kids", substitute the name of a race/ethnic group?

Surely not, and it's the same principle when referring to children.....

Like Carrot Top I think mentioned months or years ago,

some people only want shiny happy people around them.

Anything outside that narrow envelope ruins their environment

and they seek to exclude them. And they may be oblivious

to the obnoxious behaviors of their own group while stigmatizing

those of others.

Where do you think tomorrow's fine restaurant patrons are coming

from? Today's children, who may be lucky enough to be taken

there, and who through repeated lessons, will learn appropriate behavior.

(Do you think that happens in one shot? Or happens in isolation

at home or at McKidsHappyLand?)

And if treated with tolerance, the children will hopefully develop tolerance

for cranky old geezers.

Edited by Milagai (log)
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^^^

I don't think alot of these posts qualify as ageism at all. If I saw an adult throwing a loud temper tantrum, running around the restaurant banging into people and knocking stuff over, or just generally being an annoyance, I'd say the same things here. Labeling complaints like that ageism is a little too politically correct, IMO. If a restaurant doesn't want to admit children to minimize disruption, what's wrong with that, really? I don't think that because I want to go out for a nice dinner in an adult environment that that necassarily means I live in a shiny happy bubble world. Is it ageism to not allow children into bars too? Or to not sell an R-rated movie ticket to a six year old?

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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Is it ageism to not allow children into bars too?  Or to not sell an R-rated movie ticket to a six year old?

This is exactly why I dislike it when these discussions get equated with racism or ageism. They really are very different; children are people who have not reached their full emotional, mental, or physical maturity. They are not like adults. For the record, I have no problems with well-behaved children in restaurants, but I do question the judgement of parents who insist on bringing children to hushed, romantic 5 star restaurants.

That said, when people say excluding children from certain places is akin to racism or ageism, I have to assume if they think children should have equal freedoms as adults that means children shouldn't have the built-in protections and restrictions that we award them either.

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^^^

I don't think alot of these posts qualify as ageism at all.  If I saw an adult throwing a loud temper tantrum, running around the restaurant banging into people and knocking stuff over, or just generally being an annoyance, I'd say the same things here.

Really? I'd be more inclined to cut a toddler some slack on that behaviour, but it's completely out of line for an adult, to the point that maybe the authorities might need to step in.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Then again, the kid and his folks were already having dessert at 6:30-7 o'clock "when I arrived". This suggests there was little overlap in time between your group and his.

How badly could that kid have spoiled your experience in fact, as opposed to your fear he might?

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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^^^

I don't think alot of these posts qualify as ageism at all.  If I saw an adult throwing a loud temper tantrum, running around the restaurant banging into people and knocking stuff over, or just generally being an annoyance, I'd say the same things here.  Labeling complaints like that ageism is a little too politically correct, IMO.  If a restaurant doesn't want to admit children to minimize disruption, what's wrong with that, really?  I don't think that because I want to go out for a nice dinner in an adult environment that that necassarily means I live in a shiny happy bubble world.  Is it ageism to not allow children into bars too?  Or to not sell an R-rated movie ticket to a six year old?

As with many things, it's how you look at it.

Our culture in the United States is very different from many other cultures where the concepts of what children are and what they are supposed to do and be takes a different shape. Our concepts of the places that both old people and children can inhabit in the fullness of our lives has taken a very different shape.

We tend to outsource rather than to gather close.

My concept of this whole thing had a different shape when I was in my twenties and thirties, it had a different shape before I had my own children, it had a different shape before I had the chance to travel to and live in different countries that had alternate ways of composing their lives in these categories of children and old people.

Our concept of family is very different than many other places, and that has an affect on how this plays out. Our support systems are different (or in some cases, nonexistent as compared to other places).

The interesting thing about setting people into groups is that sooner or later, if one happens to fall into the group that one is setting into a particular form of desired/designed behavior - one will then have to face living up to the rules one has idealized as right for others. And of course, no path is ever as clear-cut when one has to face it themselves.

Children, old people who are not as attractive as they were when young, sick people who are not as pleasant to be around as when they were healthy - we all can be these things or can have to deal with these things at the drop of an unexpected hat (though youth sometimes does not see this as clearly as those who carry more years).

Whatever it is that a person votes for someone else to have exclusion from, they may have to face living that exclusion at some time in their lives themselves, whether they like it or not.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...
Some of you know, I work in a very high end restaurant. I had the pleasure of working Christmas Eve and Christmas this year. This happens occasionally in our place, but, these two days saw lots of infants. I'm not talking about quiet, sleeping, adorable babies. I mean the kind that are squalling, talking loud, cholicy, throwing food and untensils, and screaming. What do you do? What can you tell these parents? Lots of other clients were visibly unhappy about the noise. People don't expect babies at Daniel, Jean-Georges, Bouley, Trotter's, or my place. What the hell do you do? Can't tell people not to bring babies. Can't throw them out. Real dilemma. What do you think? Have you had an expensive meal ruined by an innocent baby?

My Philosophy:

The kids are enjoying the experience as much as their closest table.

Its unfair to everyone when the kid just doesnt want to be there.

My wife and I went to a brilliant French countryside restaurant outside of Lyon - you know the kind where the Kitchen has more square footage and better views than the dining room. Well, right when you walked in, there was an awesome play room full of toys just off to the left. It wasn't designed as an afterthought, it was a full length glass door full of toys so the parents, the kids, everyone knew where to go when the ants got in the pants. Everything about the place was spot on perfect. when we left there were kids playing in the room - it was soundproof too.

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  • 3 months later...

I think there is more than enough material in this thread for a Doctoral Thesis. Maybe three.

Interesting article on the whole Taste of Heaven thing.

I've heard a few stories from Chicago Police officers about fights breaking out when one patron suggests another control their offspring. How sad is that? You can't control your kid and end up assaulting someone who suggests you do.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

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We greatly enjoyed introducing our children to high-end dining when they were TEENAGERS. We would never have considered taking our kids to a fine-dining establishment when they were little. These places are designed for adults who have an appreciation of great food. It's not a question of not drooling on the table -- there are simply some places where children don't belong (as much as their doting parents deny that this is so). It is not fascinating to fellow diners to have to watch you trying to force-feed your adorable 5-year-old fois gras or caviar. Get over yourself!

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... It is not fascinating to fellow diners to have to watch you trying to force-feed your adorable 5-year-old fois gras or caviar.  Get over yourself!

Um....why is your own company and food so uninteresting that you are 'forced' to watch other tables? How was it accomplished ? I've been 'forced' to hear other tables, in that they were so loud that our conversation was difficult to sustain in comparison. But forced to watch others eat.... never once in 40+ years of eating out at restaurants of many different caliber has this been done to me. Its fascinating to contemplate.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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We greatly enjoyed introducing our children to high-end dining when they were TEENAGERS.  We would never have considered taking our kids to a fine-dining establishment when they were little.  These places are designed for adults who have an appreciation of great food.  It's not a question of not drooling on the table -- there are simply some places where children don't belong (as much as their doting parents deny that this is so).  It is not fascinating to fellow diners to have to watch you trying to force-feed your adorable 5-year-old fois gras or caviar.  Get over yourself!

I would rather see a 5 year old then a pimply faced smart ass teenager.. But I see what you are saying.. We are talking romantic quiet dining? But most of the fine dining restaurants in that level have enough space that as long as they arent loud or crying, they shouldnt be an issue..

We roll with a 7 year old to almost every place in New York and she is more into places then we are in some cases.. At 7 she already has an appreciation for food.. From helping me roast goats and cook pig heads, to asking for duck hearts for dinner on her birthday, she is into food..

But I would not think of taking her to a romantic fine dining place, or a teenager.. But a place thats loud like a Bouley I would have no problem taking her.. A quiet place like Per Se, it makes more sense going for lunch..

A place like JG definitely for lunch maybe for dinner.. The room manager has no problem also having children order from the hotels room service menu and will give them anything from chicken fingers to foie gras..

But again, teenagers are worse then a 5 year old in my opinion.. But I have no problem with either as long as they are well behaved.. In fact, as long as I people arent disruptive why would anyone care?

Edited by Daniel (log)
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... It is not fascinating to fellow diners to have to watch you trying to force-feed your adorable 5-year-old fois gras or caviar.  Get over yourself!

Um....why is your own company and food so uninteresting that you are 'forced' to watch other tables? How was it accomplished ? I've been 'forced' to hear other tables, in that they were so loud that our conversation was difficult to sustain in comparison. But forced to watch others eat.... never once in 40+ years of eating out at restaurants of many different caliber has this been done to me. Its fascinating to contemplate.

I doubt pikawicca was suggesting that there was physical or mental coercion involved. Rather, it is more likely that we turn to look at whatever is making a disturbance in a restaurant the same way we can't avoid looking at a wreck in the other lanes of the interstate when we should be paying attention to what is happening in ours.

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... It is not fascinating to fellow diners to have to watch you trying to force-feed your adorable 5-year-old fois gras or caviar.  Get over yourself!

Um....why is your own company and food so uninteresting that you are 'forced' to watch other tables? How was it accomplished ? I've been 'forced' to hear other tables, in that they were so loud that our conversation was difficult to sustain in comparison. But forced to watch others eat.... never once in 40+ years of eating out at restaurants of many different caliber has this been done to me. Its fascinating to contemplate.

I doubt pikawicca was suggesting that there was physical or mental coercion involved. Rather, it is more likely that we turn to look at whatever is making a disturbance in a restaurant the same way we can't avoid looking at a wreck in the other lanes of the interstate when we should be paying attention to what is happening in ours.

yeah, but i don't blame the poor sap who just got in the accident for "making" me look at him, any more than i blame him for causing a traffic jam. well, sometimes i do, but at least i know that's wrong.

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... It is not fascinating to fellow diners to have to watch you trying to force-feed your adorable 5-year-old fois gras or caviar.  Get over yourself!

Um....why is your own company and food so uninteresting that you are 'forced' to watch other tables? How was it accomplished ? I've been 'forced' to hear other tables, in that they were so loud that our conversation was difficult to sustain in comparison. But forced to watch others eat.... never once in 40+ years of eating out at restaurants of many different caliber has this been done to me. Its fascinating to contemplate.

I doubt pikawicca was suggesting that there was physical or mental coercion involved. Rather, it is more likely that we turn to look at whatever is making a disturbance in a restaurant the same way we can't avoid looking at a wreck in the other lanes of the interstate when we should be paying attention to what is happening in ours.

Pikawicca has me to believe that the very sight of a child is disturbing regardless if they are well behaved or not.. That certainly is my impression.. But then feels a teenager is ok..

Is that what you are saying Pikawicca? So regardless of the childs actions, they still shouldnt be there..

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  • 4 weeks later...

The place I ate lunch at recently was very much NOT fine dining. It was a local pub--still I don't think that relaxes standards of behavior into nothingness. There was a child there of about 3 or 4 that was running headlong around the parents table, then up, onto the raised part where bands set up in the evening, jumping off that (which made the wood floors, and my table rattle wonderfully) and back to the table to play around in the floor before doing it all again.

I don't dislike kids, really. I wasn't even expecting a quiet meal, it's a bar!

But, I can't fathom what would make a parent think that's acceptable behavior to use the space between tables as a racetrack. Luckily, it was a slow afternoon, otherwise there could have easily been a collision with a server or customer *which of course would have been no fault of the child :rolleyes: *

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I have had to ask people to control their foul children (5* hotel - and they were residents) restaurant on two separate occassions.

Occasion one was a screaming baby. I informed them it was spoiling the occassion for the other diners and maybe she would like to take it up to their room to calm it down, please.

Occasion two was three toddlers running around the restaurant on a sunday lunch. Fun when there's hot carving trolleys and waiters carrying large, heavy trays of hot food on their shoulders. I informed them that there was likely to be an accident with their precious little brats unless they sat them down.

On both occasions the parents were embarassed into making the children behave and I received thanks from the nearby diners.

Piccawicca, the concept of forefeeding a child forcefed liver is delightful. Imagine what that child's liver could be called "free range foie gras-fed foie d'enfant"

On the flipside I have also defended a breastfeeding mother from a nasty old man who was making a real fuss over it. You couldn't see a thing, and as far as I'm concerned, if I haven't noticed it while I've been in the lounge the whole time, it's not a problem. He said she had to leave so guess who left ? It wasn't her...

For the record, when and if I have children, I will take them to good restaurants as soon as they will enjoy it. I was taken to restaurants as a child and loved it. But I was very well behaved and although I was a very fussy eater as a child (hard to believe now) I always enjoyed the experience, without having to be given a childrens' menu. I believe that the only way children are taught to socialise and behave appropriately is being taken out and shown how to behave, so if they are not allowed into restaurants, how will they learn ?

For me it would be

No badly behaved children (of ANY age). Good children welcomed for half portions :raz:

and my biggest fantasy

"all mobile phones will be confiscated and destroyed on sight"

Edited by Fibilou (log)

www.diariesofadomesticatedgoddess.blogspot.com

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Here's an interesting story on this topic. Victoria and Albert's restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Spa is not going to allow children under 10.

>clickety<

I don't really care if whether restaurants ban kids or not (in my opinion, loud and obnoxious adults are way more disruptive - and they should know better!), and, to me, it seems to be up to the owner's perogative. I'm really just intrigued that it's a Disney property that's doing it.

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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For the record, when and if I have children, I will take them to good restaurants as soon as they will enjoy it. I was taken to restaurants as a child and loved it.

A child will learn the acceptable behaviors for various situations that he or she experiences. The more experience a child has in restaurants, the more likely that child will be to understand when to use their "restaurant manners". Even as adults, there are certain behaviors expected in a restaurant, which are completely unnecessary at home. More importantly, the child will also learn the appropriate ways in which to interact with someone whose profession is in the providing of service to a diner, including regional customs regarding gratuities. Table manners aside, restaurant behavior is not something learned at the home table.

I'm happy to be able to say that my children, now 18 and 21, are equipped with the proper skills to dine in almost any dining room. But we started when they were 2.

Karen Dar Woon

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  • 4 weeks later...
Well, DisneyWorld seems to agree that there are some places children just don't belong.  Victorial and Alberts is no longer allowing children diners.

Note that it just applies to children under the age of 10. Considering the number of restaurants in DisneyWorld, this is not a problem for me.

However, as a parent (even thought my son is now in college) I always felt that it was my responsibility to make sure that my child knew how to behave approriately in restaurants. We started taking him with us out to eat at a very young age, and he learned very quickly that if he acted up or was loud, he was out of there right then. We eat out often, and he has been welcome in some of the finest restaurants in the city (we live in Washington DC) since he was 5. In fact he was well known to several hosts and chefs, mainly because he had such an eclectic palate. Nothing like an 8 yo regularly ordering escargot to impress a server.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We had been to restaurants before, but for some reason when I was 4 or 5, my brother and I acted up for the first and only time. We were loud and very antsy. Told to settle down. After the second time my father took us out side, gave us a spanking, and then made us apologize to the manager, the waitress, and to each of the other tables for ruining their dinner. The embarrassment was worse than the swat.

We were complimented on our manners from then on no matter the occasion.

Edited by Susie Q (log)
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DisneyWorld seems to agree that there are some places children just don't belong

This really made me laugh! Obviously my concept of DisneyWorld is way out of line!

Surely noisy guests are noisy guests, whatever their age? Admittedly diners are not paying for exclusive use of restaurant facilities, but if you are seated next to an obviously noisy party and not offered an alternative, how many restaurants would allow you to reschedule your booking without penalty?

The worst-behaved kid I've seen at a restaurant was the child of a guest, eleven-year old step-grandchild of the guest of honor. Not possible for me to say anything about her behavior, though she was the eldest child there, and far worse behaved than her own younger sibling.

Fortunately, we had booked a separate room, so young Empress Catherine only made our group miserable, rather than an entire restaurant.

Ironically, the private room was designed to be less tiring for the two most elderly guests...instead of being turned into a torture chamber!

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  • 2 years later...

*BUMP*

TWO whole years with no commentary?? Astonishing. I just had to bring this back up to include this article from today's CNN.com about Babies Barhopping in Brooklyn.

Discuss amongst yourselves...

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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