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Mark Sommelier

Babies/Children in Restaurants (merged topic)

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It's like being on an airplane and getting stuck with a couple screaming babies.

Suck up and deal with it.

I think it is all about attitude.

It's up to you if you want to ruin your dining experience by some rotten little beast or you just block it out of your mind -- or stay home.

The other day I was out for lunch (in Italy however where we all know that even at the best restaurants kids get treated better than the paying adults) - a little boy was sitting next to us and was a total PIA.

I found it annoying but the amazing thing was that no one else did. They just continued and got on with their dining experience. Nobody complained - nobody did anything, basically they all accepted the fact that children do exist and they will be little buggers but what can you do?

Better to accept it and get over it.

Sure common sense would make you think that if your child is being an ass you get him/her out of the restaurant and beat or threaten as required. But not everyone does it - or maybe they are simply use to it and don't even notice?

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I think the restaurant has the right to throw out customers who won't or can't control the behavior of their babies, within reasonable limits.

I agree 100% - in fact, I've been to restaurants that just don't allow babies younger than a certain age. Many movie theaters don't allow babies, so why not a restaurant?


 ... Shel


 

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*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...

What ever happened to no minors in bars?

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Just chiming in a little late in the game. I appreciate what kellytree said about attitude. I do believe that parents of chronically ill-behaved children ought to be considerate of the guests around them, and order take out (and get control of their kids).

We currently have three in the house (4,6,8) and one in the oven. We also have a lifestyle that places us in restaurants for more than 50% of our meals, and sometimes at odd hours. Most of our friends are also in the same boat.

In our family, there are very clearly defined rules and pre-defined consequences for breaking those rules. The kids also know that mom and dad are 100% faithful to honor the consequences, whether they be no gameboy, no dessert, water only, etc.. The end result is, a reasonably bright child can put 2 and 2 together and shape up. Granted, they all have their bad days, but I think more parents are responsible for incorrigible behavior than kids. It drives me nuts when I see a parent say "One more time, and you're in trouble!" and then says it 8 more times. Or, "I'm going to count to 3 and then we're going outside!" and counts to 3 to the tenth power.

I can't speak for anyone else's family (and don't attempt to), but my experience has been that, clear consequences, adhered to by the parent, are the best tools of discipline.

That said, my wife and I also value time alone, and get a babysitter and visit the restaurants we'd rather not take our kids to (and pay for them!) as often as is realistic.

Now that I've strayed very far off topic... where was I? I think a parent who refuses to address a problem child in a restaurant is negligent, but I also know there are those times (usually newborn, or not feeling well) when you exhaust your efforts to no avail. That would be a good time for the rest of the patrons to sigh, say 'oh well', and do their best to ignore it and enjoy their meal.

I also believe a restaurant has the right to refuse entry to children, and I've eaten at those that do, just as they have the right to enforce a dress code. Maybe you could make a mint by opening an hourly child-care facility near a high-dollar restaurant?

My $.02 ;)

. <-- the grain of salt you should take with every opinion...


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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"Suck it up" is great advice for customers, and a well-behaved child is a far better dining companion than a badly-behaved adult. That said I think "adults-only" restaurants (that sounds weird, how about "family-unfriendly"? Anyone got something better?) might find a niche with people who want to be guaranteed dinner without wailing babies and bored, cranky kids throwing bread rolls at each other.

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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I think they should be forbidden. If they are allowed entrance, as soon as they started whining, wandering, or screaming they should be removed immediately from the dining room.

(I don't have kids)

Great thread. I totally agree with the above solution, and I don't understand why a parent would even have to be asked to control their child. (I don't have kids either, so maybe that explains why I don't understand.)

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I think it really depends on the restaurant, but I am almost always delighted to see children in a "fine dining" restaurant - tablecloths, china, silver, crystal, napkins. I remember being taken to such places as a young child and it was hugely formative in my appreciation for food and the whole experience. I remember feeling very special. I think it needs to be in context of decent table manners at home, but it's a great thing for kids and as I recall, has helped to produce a generation of food-loving people.


"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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Dogs bark, babies cry. It's silent in the grave.

I wonder whether the majority of those who object to kids in restaurants are parents who want a break from kids or intolerant childless people. I think the rap is that it's childless people, but I'm one, and I just don't have a problem with it. I'm glad to see the next generation of food lovers out and about, learning to appreciate more than a Domino's pizza eaten in front of the TV. I'm glad to see the parents continuing to enjoy life and not being consigned to parenthood purdah. Most of them seem very conscientious about whisking their kids outside at the first sign of trouble.

Sure, once in a while some kid's fit will slightly diminish your dining experience. It's not like you'll never get another chance to eat in a restaurant.

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My mantra is "Not my restaurant, not my kid, not my problem." Works every time!


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I have a 19mo daughter, she stays with a grandparent on our anniversary when we do eat in a fine dining environment. In lower end places (even diners) I have walked outside with her until she calmed down, and if she didn't we left. I would hope that other parents do the same. I love kids, just not in my dining room (or in any bar for that matter).

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The thread discussing the accommodation of special requests led my to hunt up this thread.

Children who are not inherently inclined to behave in restaurants, and cannot be bribed or threatened to do so, have no business being there, and I applaud restaurants that take a firm line with this. People go to restaurants to relax, and kids (and adults, for that matter) who cannot be reasonably restrained in restaurants ruin it for everybody (and are probably not having much fun themselves).

And no, I don't hate kids.

I was one of those kids who was generally in perpetual motion (my brother and I fought like particularly ill-tempered animals... at home). However, notwithstanding my fundamentally unpleasant disposition, fondness for combat, and urge for self expression (read: good luck shutting me up), at restaurants, I behaved.

My grandparents loved taking me to restaurants when I was as young as three, because my particular form of public showing-off involved being almost nauseatingly well-mannered. I was quiet, stayed in my seat, did not eat as though raised by wolves, was able to hold up my end of a conversation if someone at table spoke to me without monopolizing the conversation (not at three: then I mostly ate), and my relatives did not annoy kitchen and waitstaff by requesting special foods for me; they ordered the simpler dishes they knew I could manage. I had a blast, too (in fact, everybody did), and the self-imposed discipline in no way crushed my budding personality, or stifled my self expression. If I could behave in a restarant setting, any normal child can.

I also appluad parents who do manage to control (or otherwise deal with, I know how difficult it can be with babies) their kids at restaurants; among other things, they're giving their kids something important too.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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With our kids we drew a line between certain restaurants and them. When they were at the whiny age the closest they got to a restaurant was Perkins or IHOP or a diner. Even then they were whisked away when they squawked. Amazing how quickly they learned to behave in restaurants and we could take them to increasingly civilized places.

The downside of this is that our son has a very cultivated palate and wants to eat at the best places... which gets pricey.

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I don't know about out-right banning children in restaurants, I have taken my daughter (4) into some of the finest restaurants in Vancouver and it's great because she has an amazing palate, she loves food so much, anytime someone says they don't like something she will relentless hound them to "just try it". She is also extremely well-behaved, due to the fact that for her entire life I have hauled her out to the car anytime she starts acting up (even in cheaper places like Boston Pizza). It's a great thing to teach them while their young, and there have been many occasions where the staff have been so amazed by her behavior that they have given her a free dessert.

It's not hard to get a child to behave in a restaurant, it's just that most parents don't try. I love my nephew and niece but I absolutely will not go out for dinner with them. It is just far too embarrassing for me, especially since they are like 7 and 10 and they are running around the table completely out of control. Thing is, their crazy behavior is not limited to restaurants. I took them into the grocery store once and it was insanity trying to keep them together, at one point they stole a bunch of items out of someone else's cart!

Honestly though, I don't think it’s a big deal. I can think of more times that other adult customers have annoyed me by being drunk or rude than I can think of times where a child has annoyed me. Maybe restaurants just need to enforce some basic rules for ALL their clientele.

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I can think of more times that other adult customers have annoyed me by being drunk or rude than I can think of times where a child has annoyed me. Maybe restaurants just need to enforce some basic rules for ALL their clientele.

I agree that adults are equally as capable as children of being annoying. Children, however, naturally have higher pitched voices that stand out among the murmur of adult conversation; particularly when they do not understand the concept of "use your inside voice". Coupled with many instances of parents letting the kids do as they please, it creates a prejudice.

I took my 4 year old son and 3 year old niece to a nice but not too upscale Italian restaurant in San Fransisco years ago. As soon as we were seated (just myself and the kids) an adjacent table summoned the waiter and asked to be moved far far away. They were originally at a table with a pleasant view and ended up in a dark corner. There were sighs of annoyance as they traipsed past. A second table did the same. We were left surrounded by empty tables. My kids were angelic. The only odd thing they did was wash the clam shells in the water glasses so they could take them home to play with. I doubt, however, that they changed the minds of the other table for the future.

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Brats are brats, at any age.

The most annoying meal I had was dominated by a blow-by-blow description of a bad blind date, broadcast from the neighboring table. The offenders were at least in their mid-30s.

No one was with them to remind them to use their inside voice, or to take them out til they calmed down. Sigh.

That said, kids can be holy terrors, especially at holiday time or in vacation locations when all the rhythms of life are off.

It all works better when there is a careful selection of day and time, and a good run afterward, to work off all the 'sitting still' tension.


"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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My wife, 9 month old, and I went to Bouchon in LA for brunch back in December and was quite surprised how accommodating they were to us. I expected to sit in the back so that my daughter would not annoy other customers, but instead we got a table up front with great people watching. They also had high chairs, although my daughter slept through brunch quietly in her stroller.


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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HERE is an interesting twist on the usual complaints. I enjoyed the idea that the restaurant gave a discretionary discount to the family, but doesn't seem to make it a regular policy. Definitely made the family feel more special.

I remain in the camp of those who believe that badly behaved children need to be parentally ejected immediately. I have also seen small children crawling around on the floor of restaurants making Vroom-Vroom with their toy trucks with both they and their parents utterly oblivious to the fact that a waiter with a tray filled with hot soup bowls could easily not see and trip over that child and hurt someone. It's not a playground, it's a restaurant. If the kid can't sit still then he isn't old enough to be there and appreciate it. I love the idea of the next generation of diners getting a good start on developing a fine palate. Starting them off at home with delicious exotic home cooking and/or take out is the best place to see if the wee ones are appreciative. If they aren't, then you shouldn't subject them or the other diners to their antics because they're bored and there's nothing but escargot or calamari when they want chicken nuggets. It's a fairly easy thing to gauge.


Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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I just would like a 'no children' section. I've had my share of times with little rats at adjoining tables, or on airlplanes or grocery stores...you name it. And I'm not talking a little whining either, I'm talking about full-on tantrums with screaming and throwing and running. Can't stand the little buggers.

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Just read this thread and bumping it to ask - do places not really do special events aimed at kids around family oriented holidays anymore? Was that a unique quirk of where we lived when I was a kid? That's how I got my earliest experience with proper behavior in nicer places - various restaurants or organizations would host special meals like brunch for kids around Christmas and Easter and we'd get all dressed up and go to those when I was quite small. Since it was specifically a kid friendly event that usually took up most, if not all, of the seating, it wasn't the end of the world if a kid did act up a bit and the parent needed to remind them of proper behavior.

Maybe it didn't work for most kids, but for me it was quite effective in exposing me to something different than just family friendly places and served as a trial run for going on a normal night for an early dinner or what have you. I ended up going to multiple nice places probably from about age four with no dramatics, and I really do think those training opportunities made a big difference. (I mean, I'm sure there were nights when my parents couldn't be as leisurely as they wanted over the meal because they could see I was getting tired, but there are no "oh, we had to whisk you out because you started screaming!" type stories, and I have asked.)

Though perhaps if people don't realize there's an issue with how their kids behave in general, maybe there wouldn't be the market for such a thing anymore?

(I do have to add, re a comment about the parents going to a buffet and choosing for the kids, I am not convinced about that as a general approach. Buffets are an excellent place to try a small amount of new things, and sometimes what you like isn't what you'd expect or what your parents or siblings like. Unless there's a rush to get finished, why not let the kid have some say? Kid and adult go up together, kid picks what he wants to try, adult serves suitable portions and prevents kid from sticking hands into the food, you get socially acceptable behavior at the buffet and a learning experience for the kid.) (I admit I have a pet peeve about parents telling kids that they won't like something they've never tried before because the parent doesn't like it, though. Your kid is not you! You have different preferences! Let the kid try things unless there's an issue like allergies.)

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Having a child has given me a new perspective on this issue. We pretty much stick to "family friendly" places, bring toys, eat early, etc. He definitely gets screechy if we take too long. But, honestly, I blame the staff sometimes - why are you disappearing when my child is melting down? Help me get a box for the leftovers, get us the check, and get us out of there. If we just arrived, bring some bread, crackers, something right way/ask if you can put the child's food order in first. And thank you for moving the utensil bundle by me instead of leaving the knife in front of the kiddo.

I will let my son walk around - in the lobby or some other appropriate area. We went to the local not-a-diner, and they have a big area behind the hostess desk with a waterfall. He was fascinated and had a chance to stretch his legs. I hovered and kept him out of traffic. It's possible. But sometimes we have extended-family stuff to do that involves being there later. If we're with family that wants to linger, DH has been known to take the toddler home earlier.

I have to admit, I order the hot dog or the mac & cheese when we're out. I just don't want to spend the money on something unfamiliar until he's at least able to ask for it. This is not the time for him to freak because it tastes different. He can learn about different tastes at home.

My big pet peeve is older children playing on tablets/portable games without interacting with the parents - and with the sound up. If I wasn't allowed a book at the table at that age, you can put your game away. :)


Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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And here's a tip. If you hate being bothered by unruly children whose parents see every irritating thing those children do as "cute," do not ever sit right by the fish tank in a Chinese restaurant.

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I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I don't think it is the staff's responsibility to automatically make sure that everything is like you want without you telling them what you want. You seem to think that everybody with a small child will have the same expectations as you have but that is simply not true. We also have a small child and we would be annoyed if the staff would bring anything at the beginning just to clam them down and not treat them like a "normal" customer (We wouldn't also like it if they just put the child's food order first - why ?). It's the parent's responsibility that their kids behave or to ask if they want something unusual. I also don't see kids should eat only hot dogs or mac & cheese in restaurants (or do you also only eat these two dishes in a restaurant ?)- isn't the whole purpose of the visit to have great time and also give them the chance to eat different things ?

He definitely gets screechy if we take too long. But, honestly, I blame the staff sometimes - why are you disappearing when my child is melting down? Help me get a box for the leftovers, get us the check, and get us out of there. If we just arrived, bring some bread, crackers, something right way/ask if you can put the child's food order in first. And thank you for moving the utensil bundle by me instead of leaving the knife in front of the kiddo.

I have to admit, I order the hot dog or the mac & cheese when we're out. I just don't want to spend the money on something unfamiliar until he's at least able to ask for it. This is not the time for him to freak because it tastes different. He can learn about different tastes at home.


Edited by Honkman (log)

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