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Banning kids in restaurants?

(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Earlier this week WTAE, a Pittsburgh ABC affiliate, reported about a local restaurant’s new ban on children under the age of 6. Mike Vuick, the owner of McDain’s Restaurant and Golf Center in Monroeville, PA, reached the end of his rope with uncontrolled children in his restaurant and instituted the policy after receiving many complaints from his other patrons. The story was quickly picked up by the national media, including Time and The Wall Street Journal.

Though McDain’s has predictably been on the business end of quite a few outraged parents, it seems that even more folks are applauding the decision. According to the online survey on WTAE’s website, 64% are in favor of the ban and according to The Journal, Vuick saw a 20% uptick in receipts following the announcement.

Having not yet reproduced myself, perhaps it is easier for me to join the masses in smiling at the story. Perhaps once I’ve passed my genes on to the next generation, that empathy switch in the back of my head will flip, and a screaming, uncontrolled child in an age-inappropriate place won’t bother me. Perhaps.

I just got a puppy, so I’m going to make a canine analogy here. A trained dog is a free dog. You can’t let your pup run off-leash until you know that it will come to you when called.

The same goes for parents, kids, and restaurants. I don’t agree that there should be a sweeping ban on kids in a restaurant, but until your little bundle of joy is mature enough to go off-leash, maybe the best strategy is to stick to restaurants where a little ruckus and an temper tantrum or two would go unnoticed.

While many will make the airplane argument here, and I’m just as much a fan of sitting next to a screaming infant in coach as the next guy, that is a completely different scenario than dining out. Little Johnny doesn’t need to join Mom and Dad for a four-star meal just so he can make it to Boise for Christmas with the family.

Which side are you on? The “hire a babysitter” camp or the “I can take my kid anywhere” crowd?

-By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

90 comments Add your comment

N-GA

July 15th, 2011
5:30 am

I couldn’t agree more. There are literally countless restaurants that cater to adults with children. From Pizza Hut to Ippolito’s, folks have a broad selection of establishments where children are welcomed. Even at that, adults will bring their children to self-serve buffet-style restaurants and ignore their offspring as they drag ladles from one serving tray to another, dropping mashed potatoes into the green beans.

There are just too many people who are inconsiderate of others, so restaurants need to take action. Do you want to have an (expensive) anniversary dinner at Bacchanalia or Restaurant Eugene only to have a screaming child spoil your evening when you chose to pay a sitter to watch your own children?

Marietta Mary

July 15th, 2011
5:51 am

I’m on both sides of the fence here, but if you know your child has a very short attention span, and hasn’t yet learned the finer points of quiet play (crayons and coloring books, e.g.), then fork over the money for a sitter. Everyone, including you, will be happier. I had friends who took their young daughter everywhere. Thankfully, she knew restaurant etiquette, but most kids don’t.

Jim R

July 15th, 2011
6:31 am

Keep the kids, ban the parents who can’t/won’t control their offspring.

Beck

July 15th, 2011
6:59 am

Amen!

Smoke free and child free should be official seating designations in every restaurant!

Kevin

July 15th, 2011
7:02 am

While we’re at it, let’s turn off those cell phones too.

Jai Mack

July 15th, 2011
7:14 am

Unfortunately, those parents with kids who are out of control do not know or realize that the unruly behavior does not have to be tolerated by others. If enough establishments have rules restricting kids under a certain age or have kid only zones with long waits, perhaps these parents will get the picture that others do not want to deal with someone else’s kids and the out of control behavior. Then they can practice time out at home.

jack bauer

July 15th, 2011
7:15 am

Leave them at home. In fact, the parents of these misbehaved kids need to stay home too!

Jim

July 15th, 2011
7:17 am

This happened for two reasons: 1) Rude and inconsiderate parents of unruly children, 2) restaurant staff and managers who did not have the testosterone level to confront the parents.
It is the restaurant owners to set the rules but I really wish he would not throw “the baby out with the bath water”, so to speak.

Rick

July 15th, 2011
7:25 am

Sign of the times…rude and inconsiderate parents raise rude and inconsiderate children.

jg

July 15th, 2011
7:32 am

They had only just taken our order – the kids were acting up – we left – no dinner that night. Never happened again.

Laurie

July 15th, 2011
7:45 am

I’ve been on both sides of the fence on this one, and I think if a restaurant wants to impose age restrictions, they should be allowed to do so. If you don’t like, you don’t have to go there and spend your money to support it. It’s really as simple as that.

Pat

July 15th, 2011
7:50 am

The scream of an out-of-control child sends chills down my spine – and their indulgent self-absorbed parents make me see red. My daughter learned to use her “inside” voice in public, including restaurants. The sad thing is that parents of these screaming brats see restaurant bans as infringing on their rights but it’s really a comment on their lack of parenting.

Mike

July 15th, 2011
7:54 am

PARENTS: Unless you are at Chucky Cheese, if your kid is screaming, banging, running around, STOP THEM IMMEDIATELY. It is not cute and we should not have to put up with that garbage. If I started behaving like your precious child, the police would be called. I don’t care how “put upon” this makes you feel. The establishment is not your kids’ playground and you are ruining our meal.

RESTAURANT OWNERS: When the noise or activity level gets to the point that you would ask an adult to leave, do the same for children.

P.S. Thanks to the few and far between mature parents that are responsible and take their colicky child outside or make their children behave appropriately.

Jo

July 15th, 2011
7:54 am

Hurrah!!! Finally someone is coming to his/her senses. Nothing is much more irritating than trying to eat while an unruly child is screaming and banging on the table or china with a spoon while the parents ignore the child. They don’t seem to know there is an option to take the child outside or just stay home. The same goes for cell phones or LINK phones. Is anyone interested in hearing another’s conversation? Can these people not do without a cell phone for maybe one hour. We live in such a rude, inconsiderate society that it has become necessary to impose these rules. If you are so important that you can’t live without your cell phone for one hour or discipline your brat, JUST STAY HOME!

seabeau

July 15th, 2011
8:01 am

Spare the ROD and Spoil the Child!!

carla roqs

July 15th, 2011
8:06 am

i agree with the restaurant, crying kids in public places drive me crazy. even at chucky cheese, waiting on a friend’s niece’s birthday party– i saw an unsupervised kid playing at the salad bar. i was glad i’d already bought mine and i did not go anywhere near where the child had been. saw the article on the yogurt samples given out at the store. may have to stay away from samples as well. some people are just nasty.

Rodney

July 15th, 2011
8:14 am

Wow – I thought I’d be in the minority here but looks like I’m NOT :) I’m all for an age requirement at appropriate restaurants.

Typical family restos (the TGI’s and Ruby’s and the like) shouldn’t have any age restriction for children. That should be MY responsibility to know that if I were to go to one of those, I might have to deal with kids. But restos like (for example) Eugene, ONE, Floataway, 4th and Swift, etc., should be able to stipulate a certain age limit for children.

And as for the parents who say “why should I not be able to go out just because I have a kid – why should I not have fun” I have two things to say to you … 1 – having a small child means your life is not yours for the next few years and you should just accept that and look to the future, and 2 – get a sitter. How much could it cost for a couple of hours?

I love children. I have a niece and nephew that I would lay down in front of a train for. But I would never agree to go out with them somewhere nice and adult-ish. They’re good kids, but they do have moments of wacky-dom. And, kids don’t belong everywhere adults do.

“but until your little bundle of joy is mature enough to go off-leash, maybe the best strategy is to stick to restaurants where a little ruckus and an temper tantrum or two would go unnoticed.” – unfortunately, Jon, this decision can’t be made by most parents. :)

Reds

July 15th, 2011
8:15 am

I see no issue with a restaurant putting this in place. I would likely frequent it more often, if the occasion arose for something of that nature. Don’t like the policy? Don’t go. My parents would have yanked me out of a restaurant so fast if I even *thought* about getting up from the table without their permission. If parents (the general “parents”, I know it’s not all of them) can’t control their kids, they should stick to McD’s.

Theron Sapp

July 15th, 2011
8:15 am

Obviously, infants and toddlers do not belong at Bacchanalia. But the restaurant in Pennsylvania is attached to a golf driving range. Polite children should be welcomed, and impolite ones should be escorted out with their impolite parents. But that takes more guts, and more work, on the part of the restaurant than just saying no.

Lori

July 15th, 2011
8:16 am

It’s sad that a restaurant would have to go to such measures. My son wasn’t one to behave well in restaurants when he was under 2 years old, so we just simply didn’t take him very many places. When he did start to scream or act out, one of us would take him outside until he calmed down. We never took him to any “white table cloth” restaurants, as I agree that really nice places are no place for small kids. Why parents let their kids scream and bother others is a mystery to me, but I guess not everyone is very considerate of others.

Kirk

July 15th, 2011
8:39 am

I guess I’m old school. When I grew up, (50s and 60s) we three kids practiced going out to eat at home under the strict supervision of my mother. The very idea of acting up at a restaurant was squashed before it ever occurred. Hell, we couldn’t even put our elbows on the table.

Hungry Gringo

July 15th, 2011
8:41 am

Keep the kids OTP. Simple.

Mike

July 15th, 2011
8:42 am

I see a lot of comments that parents should take their kids to places like McDonald’s if they cannot behave and avoid high end restaurants.. I could not disagree more. It’s still not acceptable for your child to be a screaming nuisance in the restaurant and ruin someone else’s outing (that excludes their separated playlands of course). That trip to Micky D’s can be the same financial outlay to one as a night at a high end restaurant is to another. Be considerate.

Steven

July 15th, 2011
9:01 am

I bring my kids to restaurants frequently ( age 4 and 2). We go at earlier times when restaurant not busy and often use outside seating when appropriate. Empire South and Miller Union are good examples. I have never had any complaints, in fact almost every time people comment on how well are kids behave. But, I see the other side of the screaming kid at other tables. I would not take my kids if they acted like that.

up north

July 15th, 2011
9:03 am

Yes, this is a matter of parental discipline with children. I was just in a restaurant last night, where one small child disrupted an entire dining area-climbing back and forth, over and under booths, while hooping and hollering. This kid was even over the top of the table with a parent on each side of the booth with their food in front of them. I know you cannot do this nowadays; but, when I was young and misbehaving, I was put out to the car, or even left at home, while the rest of my family ate! Maybe a previous post was correct-the parents should be made to stay home, too!

Dejay

July 15th, 2011
9:07 am

I could see this coming years ago. If I had a dollar for everytime I’ve seen unruly kids have temper tantrums and run crazy in a restaurant while their parents sat totally oblivious to it, my student loans would be paid in full. Like Kirk, I guess I’m old-school as well. When I was a kid, I couldn’t get within hailing distance of a white-cloth caliber restaurant until my parents were absolutely sure that I could handle it. It was trips to McD’s and Burger King and being strictly supervised when been there until I could step foot in a buffet, let alone a quiet, sit-down restaurant. No elbows on the table, no chewing with your mouth wide open, and you can forget about crying, speaking loudly or out of turn. If you did any of that, even at McDs, there were consequences and repercussions the instant you got home. That was how a kid learned restaurant etiquette back then; there were no ‘Johnny, stop it, Johnny sit down, Johnny, don’t throw your soda at the waiter, Johnny, you’ll get another plate, just stop crying’ stuff going on. Restaurant owners didn’t have to come up with age restrictions back then because the kids who walked into those places with their parents knew better; you either acted like you had some sense or you paid the price for it. End of discussion.

I just don’t understand folks who have small children yet want to go out as if they don’t have any kids. Here’s a newsflash; once you have a child, let alone a litter of small ones, your days of going to Ray’s on the River are OVER unless you can afford a sitter. If you can’t afford one, stay at home with the little rugrats, take them to places that better suit young kids and skip the trip to the Sundial. Sit at the table with them and teach them how to act when they are eating. That way, they’ll know how to when they’re in a public place…

Bhorsoft

July 15th, 2011
9:09 am

A few rambling points that echo previous posts:

When I was a kid my parents were on me like white on rice when I even remotely acted up at a restaurant. Of course, back then a trip to a restaurant was a treat and not an everyday occurrence like it is today. However, there is no excuse for a parent not properly monitoring their children in a public place – if you don’t teach your kids proper public behavior, no one will.

There have been more than once I have actually asked for the “No Children” section when being seated at a restaurant. I usually get quizzical looks by the waitrons doing the seating. There are just some times after a long, hard day at work that I would like to have a quiet, relaxing dinner with the spouse. These are the times I welcome a No Children section, or a No Children policy.

I would also like to have a No Cellphones section as well. If an adult can’t observe proper restaurant etiquette, how can we expect children to?

Finally, these are privately owned businesses. It is up to the business owner to decide who they will or won’t serve (within our current legal limits). To my knowledge, it is not against the law to discriminate against children – so if a restaurant doesn’t want to cater to children it is well within their right to refuse children.

Buckhead dude

July 15th, 2011
9:27 am

that is why I love the VORTEX! keep your screaming, misbehaving children out! I did a girl with a kid and she would walk around the restaurant starring at people, etc, and of course the gf never said a word to her.. I was thinking “your kid is walking around uncontrolled.. what the crap!” This wasn’t a fancy restaurant, but a Mexican place off of Buford Hwy.. the lesson, keep your kids at home if the are still at that age of spontaneous brattiness.

Ramona Clef

July 15th, 2011
9:31 am

Not an opinion, just a data point: I visited Montreal a few years ago. Dined out each night for five nights, at some great places. Not once did we see a child under (about) twelve in a restaurant. I conclude it’s a cultural thing?

Reds

July 15th, 2011
9:56 am

@Mike — I see your point… but most McD’s have a playground. You can’t expect kids not to run around screaming and laughing if there is a playground… That’s what I was getting at.

rebelliousrose

July 15th, 2011
10:45 am

The high point of my restaurant career, ever, was when after a mother was repeateadly (myself, manager’s self, another waiter, both hostesses) asked to please keep her child at the table, as he kept wandering in front of the blind spot by the kitchen door, I came flying out of the kitchen with six plates of linguine in seafood sauce stacked up my arms, slammed right into him, and unloaded all six plates directly on his head. To my great joy, the manager refused to pay for the family’s meal, on the grounds that they had been repeatedly asked to NOT allow that behavior. Of course, that was in the early 90’s, because now the mother would have sued me, the restaurant, the maker of the plates, and probably Atlanta Fixture for good measure.

Rodney

July 15th, 2011
10:45 am

@Dejay – “Here’s a newsflash; once you have a child, let alone a litter of small ones, your days of going to Ray’s on the River are OVER unless you can afford a sitter. If you can’t afford one, stay at home with the little rugrats, take them to places that better suit young kids … ”

SAY IT AGAIN! I couldn’t agree more (as stated above)

Christi J

July 15th, 2011
11:18 am

I’m glad to see an article of this nature garnering attention – and support. I’ve found myself – especially within the past year – flummoxed by the amount of UNRULY children in what I’d consider “adult” restaurants. I emphasize unruly because, as a child who enjoyed finer foods than chicken fingers, I have zero issue with children in a restaurant who are well mannered.

That having been said, parents in Atlanta (yes, I’m generalizing here) seem to have issues with the concept of raising a child to have manners and be mindful/considerate of others. You have a right to bring your family to dinner. I have a right to enjoy MY dinner in peace. If you can control your children, then let’s break hipster bread in a trendy spot. If not – please take your circus to a more apropos locale.

For instance, I love Willy’s. I love the Willy’s on Howell Mill Road. They have a bar, plenty of room, a good patio, and trivia. I no longer patronize this location, however. There is a large group of parents who frequent the restaurant that let their children run absolutely amok. Through the restaurant, on the patio, to and fro the drink machine incessantly. BEYOND the fact that it’s simply rude and annoying as he**, it’s NOT SAFE. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve seen almost obliterate a child coming around a corner (or be tripped up by one, for that matter.)

One night, I’d finally had enough. I went up to the manager and asked if he could do/say something. I was told that they couldn’t do/say ANYTHING. Hello? It’s your restaurant, and if patrons are being disruptive, let alone unsafe, you are absolutely allowed to politely address the problem. I suppose they consider them “valuable” in terms of money spent, but I can tell you they’ve lost customers from it as well.

Kim

July 15th, 2011
11:30 am

Put it this way. I am 40 years old and my mother can STILL give me “the look” and I know to shut it up–quickly. Fortunately I learned this at an early age and passed it on to my own at an early, early age. I have given many kids who are not mine “the look” and if many parents would just discipline their kids and not be embarrassed to do so, we’d all live in a much happier place. That being said, I totally agree with the ban. Not every restaurant is going to be “family friendly” and that’s okay. There are plenty that are. But if I’m shelling out a good amount of “change” for a fabulous dinner, the last thing I want to hear is “Stewie” chanting “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, adnauseum…..” Just sayin….

Conscientious Parent

July 15th, 2011
11:39 am

My wife and I try and consider others before ourselves. That’s why when we take our kids out, we go to places that are accommodating to families with kids. Mexican Restaurants, certain Pizza places, etc.

I too would be pissed if I went to Bachanalia(sp?) or another nice restaurant, only to have someone else not leave there children with a sitter.

Parents please use common sense. Not everyone thinks your child is as great as you do, and people are not entertained by their antics.

General public: I challenge you to confront,(in a loving and gracious manner), these parents. If these people are oblivious to their children’s behavior, or their lack of parenting skills, how will they know if they need to make changes?

Lorenzo

July 15th, 2011
11:47 am

As others have noted, kids and parents today are not as disciplined as back in the day.

When my parents and my 7-year old self would go out to dinner at a wonderful old restaurant, my dad would order a lobster and a martini, my mom would order a lobster and a Manhattan, and I’d order a lobster and a Shirley Temple. I modeled my behavior on my parents’ behavior, and I would never have dreamed of making loud noises or getting out of my chair and running around.

I suspect there are families today that resemble what I described, although I would imagine that nowadays they’re out eating sushi, Korean barbecue, Ethiopian or whatever, rather than what we ate back in the day. But the vast majority today are not like that, and I don’t want to share my dining with them.

Mar -Atl Foodie

July 15th, 2011
12:03 pm

Children in most restaurants drive me crazy. They talk too loud and jump around, while their parents look the other way. Some mgrs have told me they feel that they can’t say too much to the parents because they might lose business. That is when I let them know they have lost mine. If you can afford to go out, you can afford a sitter. Other people don’t think your rug-rat is cute when they are acting badly. I always ask for the non-children section.

Ryan

July 15th, 2011
12:08 pm

I have a 4 year old daughter and I would be an idiot to take her to a nice restaurant. Don’t get me wrong she’s a good kid but at that age anything can happen at anytime. Plus why would the kid enjoy someplace they can’t let loose. Get a sitter fools.

donkey200

July 15th, 2011
1:26 pm

Leave the brats home. Period. They shouldn’t be on planes either – especially babies. Ugh!

Mar -Atl Foodie

July 15th, 2011
1:34 pm

[...] Food & More blogger Jon Watson wrote today about a restaurant in Pennsylvania that has banned children under 6 years old. The owner of [...]

Muffin

July 15th, 2011
4:17 pm

I used to frequent a restaurant in Chamblee that had two sides to the restaurant: one was a family friendly, child run amok side with food all over the floor and crap flying everywhere (and lots of pissed off servers that weren’t allowed to say squat). the other side of the restaurant/bar was all 18 and up. no kids allowed! access to a patio with a tv’s! it was a great concept.

lkljlkj

July 15th, 2011
5:44 pm

When it comes to sit-down restaurants, something I’ve found that’s generally true: if there are lots of kids there, it’s likely the case the food isn’t very good and it’s not some place I’d enjoy anyway. It seems parents with little kids tend to go to restaurants known more for being inexpensive than being good.

Carla

July 15th, 2011
6:09 pm

I love my kids. I do. Truely. But when my husband and I have saved up to go to a nice meal out, we leave our kids AT HOME. I don’t want to have to tell my very active six year old to sit down ten times in a meal, much less have everyone else hear me request it. Some days are better than others and I know if I am to enjoy myself in an adult environment, I leave my babies at home..so please, please, do the same for me. That night out might be the only one we get this year. If I’m not going to let my kids ruin your night, why can’t people be conciderate enough to not ruin mine? So yeah, if there were two restaurants of compairable food and expense and environment and one allowed children and one didn’t…well, I know my preferance.

Baltisraul

July 15th, 2011
6:26 pm

Kids should be seen not heard. True then, true now!! How tough is to controll your kids in public???? Unbelieveable, parents let their kids embarrass them in public.

CC

July 15th, 2011
6:28 pm

I wonder if the demise of good restaurant manners on the part of today’s kids has any relation to the demise of the sit-down family dinner at home. I suspect many of these kids rarely experience what many of us of a certain age experienced every evening….the family sitting as a unit around the table sharing a meal and a bit of conversation. These kids more than likely are scheduled for some activity every waking moment and meals are caught on the fly. Can’t learn to sit still if you never have the opportunity to sit still.

MarieLetsEat

July 15th, 2011
6:42 pm

Speaking as a dad of three, I’m totally in favor of this. I love it the same way I love the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin throwing out people with cell phones: absolutely.

When I did take the two oldest to fast food places with playgrounds, their ability to go out and use them was always entirely contingent on their eating, and behaving, first. Parents who let their kids run and play and then try and get them to calm down and eat? Dimwits, the lot of ‘em.

Cam

July 15th, 2011
8:32 pm

Have any of you ever travelled to countries like Spain and Italy? There children are in every sort of restaurant – chic or not, playing and having a good time, not screaming. It makes the place come to life. These restaurants that you suggest for families are disgusting, dirty, generic and the food is appalling. Why should children have to be subjected to that if parents prefer to introduce proper food and etiquette into their child’s life? I think you are doing a big disservice in a child’s up bringing by placing a blanket ban. Children should be celebrated, not placed in a closet because a few childless people can’t stand them. REMEMBER: They are the next generation to fight for your freedom, pay your social security and lead your country.
And not to mention this is a form of discrimination. So where does it end?

Laughing

July 15th, 2011
9:23 pm

I love this rule! And, I have a toddler. It sounds like it is actually a rule for parents, not the kids. We go out to eat very often and if he has had enough, we box up our dinner and go home, or one parent walks around with him outside while the other finishes. I can’t stand it when the kids are brought to a restaurant where they clearly don’t belong, and then are scolded for misbehaving. Parents just don’t understand sometimes.

BarryLee

July 16th, 2011
12:34 am

Funny, kids are always annoying when they are someone else’s. I mean our kids never make noise are cause a disturbance – right? When I was a kid my Father worked in the restaurant business and he took us to eat in some of Atlanta’s nicer restaurants, but before hand we were read the riot act and did not dare act up. I say let kids in, but if they cause a problem ask them to leave. It seems pretty simply parents have to take personal responsibility.

Barry

July 16th, 2011
1:09 am

I wish this attitude would catch on with fine dining establishments. When I am going to drop $200 – $300 for a 5 star dining experience the last thing I want is someone in the resturant with a child. Even a quit child is going to be at best a messy eater and I do not want to see, hear or smell your pet when I am eating. If I go to the diner or McDonald’s I expect to deal with children. When I go to a fine dining establishment there should be a strict no children policy. Keep your pet at home and do not inflict it on me. And by the by if your kid is under 6 it has no business on an airplane! My parents raised 2 children without inflicting us on the flying public. Others need to do the same. If it is under 6 you should have to ship it like everyone else does with their flying pets. Down below in a pet carrier not up top with me screaming and crapping and generally making a bad experience worse.

Curious

July 16th, 2011
1:33 am

Cam, you say “And not to mention this is a form of discrimination” – are you saying there is a legal prohibition against this? Is this your opinion or is it actually based on a legal requirement? Are you a lawyer? I am, and that is why I am curious about why this would be stated as a fact. There is no legal prohibition against this in Georgia, where I am licensed to practice. If you are not a lawyer, please be careful about making legal conclusions because other people may conclude they are true, when in fact they are not.

That said, I agree that it is too bad to have a blanket ban. I have no problem with well-behaved young children in restaurants – as you say, in Europe one can dine in restaurants frequented by families with well behaved young children and everyone has a pleasant experience. I love that. There is nothing better than all age groups at table enjoying a good meal and community together. The problem in the US today is that some parents do not exercise the same discipline over their children. The restaurateurs are caught in the middle – parents act as though this is some sort of discrimination issue when the same sort of behavior (screaming, kicking, running around, throwing things) would never be tolerated for an adult. I mean, really. Imagine a 40 year old having a hissy fit, slamming the table, shouting and running around the room – would we really think that rejecting that behavior for other patrons is wrong? Granted children get some leeway because of age/lack of maturity, but full scale do what you want out of control is not permissible. The expectation is that parents/adults will act as the balance to offset the child’s lack of maturity and control the behavior.

Even if some children are well-behaved, in this day and age, the business owners of the restaurants are better served with a blanket ban, which involves no judgment call, just an age cut off. That way there is no subjectivity. If they tried to have a tailored approach which might allow well-behaved children in the restaurant, but reject children who misbehave, someone litigious will sue them because their subjectivity was offensive and their feelings are hurt that their darlings were insulted. When in fact it is only the parents who are insulted because the children who misbehave are not focused on how their behavior impacts others besides their parents (because the misbehavior is directed at the parents, not the strangers who have no impact on their lives). This issue is all about the parents, which is pretty much the theme of the numerous comments on this thought provoking post.

aaa

July 16th, 2011
2:16 am

I’ve been to restaurants where the parents are having dinner with other parents and the children are seated at another table. The kids are ignored and allowed to act out, run around, chase each other, scream and just act terrible. And not a single time do you see the parents try to calm them down. So I’m all for creating separate spaces for families with children. And also for cell free zones. The second most annoying thing is trying to enjoy dinner while having to listen to another patron’s cell conversation. I’ve asked to be moved because of this reason.

Cam

July 16th, 2011
6:27 am

To Curious: I want to point out the first definition of discrimination found in the Oxford Dictionary below.

dis·crim·i·na·tion/disˌkriməˈnāSHən/Noun
1. The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, esp. on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

That being said, I am not disagreeing with the annoyance of ill mannered children or adults for that matter. By all means all should be escorted out for disturbance. But what I am disagreeing with is the placement of a blanket ban on ALL children under a certain age. Not ALL children are little pains in the back side. It’s a sweeping statement.

I’ve been going to 5-star restaurants since I was an infant and learned proper etiquette from a very early age.

Perhaps this is more of a wake-up call to American parents. Manners start at an early and in the home. And I agree with CURIOUS that US standards of discipline over their children are placing restaurant owners in a very difficult position.

Before I conclude I do want to ask you, would you place a ban on people with special needs which can also be just as difficult? Where does the line start and stop with discrimination?

Mike

July 16th, 2011
7:32 am

@CAM
“REMEMBER: They are the next generation to fight for your freedom, pay your social security and lead your country.”

If that’s the case, these out of control, undisciplined brats are going to be the first ones shot as they run around screaming and uncontrolled on the battlefield and they will never hold a job to pay into SS. We are in deep kimchi.

Edward

July 16th, 2011
9:27 am

The problem is parents who strive to be their child’s friend instead of being their parent. Breeders (they’re not being parents, remember) let their children become the boss of the household; the children dictating where, when, how and scolding the adults for not kowtowing to their every wish. I see this sort of behavior far too frequently in public venues.

Father Murphy

July 16th, 2011
10:11 am

I will not go anywhere that bans kids.

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2011
10:24 am

This blog was cited yesterday on the Momania blog, so I jumped over.
I have been reading Momania for years.

I am delighted that so many posters here appear to have some common sense. I work with young children all the time and adore them. It is sad, that many parents do not set behavioral expectations for their offspring and thus the problems begin.
Our two are in college but we never allowed them to romp around the restaurant or disturb other diners. Yes, children are absolutely unpredictable and this is WHY they often cannot be expected to behave appropriately, for dinner, in a fine dining establishment or perhaps eating most places at 9:00 p.m.

To me, when the kids are causing a ruckus ( sp) and the parents are in another world, it SCREAMS

” I am a selfish person and do not care about everyone else’s experience.” Sadly, there appear to be more people who adhere to this attitude today: cell phones, music blaring in cars at the stop sign, dogs who run all over the neighborhood freely, people in the 10 item or less line at the grocery store with a cart FULL of items…

N-GA

July 16th, 2011
10:38 am

It amuses me to read remarks about restaurants in Spain full of children having fun. Why? Because that is total B.S.! I lived in Europe for 7 years…3 of those years in Spain.

In the first place, adults in Spain typically eat very late when they dine out. And there are no children with them! In France you are more likely to see a dog with a customer rather than children. Exceptions? Yes, but not many.

It’s amazing how many bloggers lie with complete anonymity, pretending to have been places they’ve never even seen!

Perhaps a better rule would be to require that all diners with children under 13 must be finished and gone by 6:30 or 7:00.

N-GA

July 16th, 2011
10:38 am

Father Murphy – “You’ll be missed!”

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2011
10:39 am

N-GA…I think your last line is a wonderful compromise.

@CAM

July 16th, 2011
12:08 pm

“children should be celebrated” – I will celebrate children that act appropriately in restaurants. Can we get over this statement? Yes, children should be celebrated – in the right places, at the right times. It doesn’t mean they should be allowed everywhere and allowed to do whatever they want.

Lal

July 16th, 2011
6:42 pm

Our kids grew up going to restaurants. As they got older, the restaurants got fancier.
It’s all in teaching them the rules and in the timing. Try not to take tired kids anywhere! From the beginning, before we went into a restaurant, we all recited the “restaurant rules” :

1) Inside voices.
2) Use the magic words (please and thank you).
3) Stay in your seat and don’t run around.

We were prepared to walk out if we had to, but it was never necessary. We had sort of the same rules for stores. Once I left a cart full of groceries (sorry, Piggly Wiggly!) because of a toddler temper tantrum. It never happened again.

Alpha23

July 16th, 2011
9:19 pm

I’m absolutely in favor of restaurants banning children! If it ain’t a fast food place, there shouldn’t be any kids there! When kids are old enough to behave, then they can go out to nicer restaurants! Or when the parents are old enough to make them behave!!

CommonSenseRules

July 16th, 2011
9:24 pm

There are sufficient enough eateries, that in certain venues, the parents’ ‘little darlings’ under a certain ‘age’(behavior?) should not accompany adult diners. Perhaps, the policy ought to be about behavior, rather than age. Some folks allow their offspring to be obnoxious, i.e. untrained puppies, for a damagingly long time… . On a daily basis I work with people over the age of majority, and their puppyhood continues to be in evidence.

Zoe

July 16th, 2011
9:33 pm

Splendid rule. Hopefully more restaurants will adopt it. The ultimate solution of course, is that parents take their jobs of child rearing serious and teach their offsprings manners. Next: cinemas!

kme

July 16th, 2011
10:42 pm

I have read the majority of feedbacks on this one…my own feeling?
1) YES, ban children who are even 10 years of age and under who have a character-control problem. I am paying huge $$$s for an expensive meal…I want it to be worth it…not having uncontrolled children running all over the place, getting into the waitstaff’s way, possibly causing a hazardeous condition for all.
2) While we are at it…if you have a LOUD cellphone ring…you do not wish to be disturbed and disturb others…PUT YOUR PHONE ON EITHER SILENT, VIBRATE OR TURN IT OFF. It is called consideration, people!
3) Hey…while we are at it…BAN SMOKING IN ALL RESTAURANTS. I do not care to eat, smell, sniff your smoke while I am enjoying my meal. Leave your cigarettes out of these establishments.

Thoth Amon

July 16th, 2011
10:47 pm

“…(the restaurant had) a family friendly, child run amok side with food all over the floor and crap flying everywhere (and lots of pissed off servers that weren’t allowed to say squat)…”

Sorry Muffin, I call BS on this. Sounds exactly like what a whiny, self-indulgent adult would say to complain about other people’s kids. Come up with something more believable next time.

Bob Waas

July 16th, 2011
11:09 pm

That is the beauty of America…it’s his restaurant and he should be able to decide what is best for all his patrons. I have 5 children and 11 grandkids and they always behave themselves when eating out. Unfortunately, some parents don’t teach their children how to act when in public.

Brother Bill

July 17th, 2011
12:07 am

Chuck E. Cheese needs to implement this policy for parents who can’t behave themselves!

Brother Bill

July 17th, 2011
12:13 am

When my children were toddlers, they were given power and responsibility. For example, my child was given the power to examine any item in the store. The catch was that the item could not go in the cart, and must be returned to its original spot. When my daughter was 2 1/2, she exercised this to look at an entire shelf of eyedrops. She asked to examine them, took them out, put them back in, and gave me a big smile. She never asked again, but she knew she could.

Huh?

July 17th, 2011
12:19 am

Wow. So much hostility. I say ban couples who can’t have children from going to out to eat. Until we invent the strap on uterus keep your opinions to yourself. Restaurants have the right to refuse service to anyone they wish, but if they said that YOU couldn’t come in I am sure the ACLU would close them down faster than you could say lube me up.

DeDe

July 17th, 2011
12:34 am

yea! it is about time. I wish more resturants would take this stand.
My parents would not take us out to a sit down, nice resturant until we
were old enough to learn how to “dine” properly. And they taught us. Great lessons. Maybe it should be a parental mandate.?

DeDe

July 17th, 2011
1:00 am

I often go out to eat by myself as my Husband works nights. I went to one “family resturant” around 4pm to avoid the “crowd”. The rather large resturant was fairly empty. I sat in a corner table away from other people, by myself with my dinner and a good book. What happens, 2 different families with 4 children each sit right next to me on either side of my table. The whole resturant was empty. Why sit next to me. Anoher case of parents who have no consideration for other people. One kid had dental work that day (they discussed it rather loudly, not pretty) so everytime he took a bite of food he had to scream and yell “it hurts, my tooth”. The rest were just as loud and disgusting. Needless to say I could not take it for long, and when one threw food at his sibling I had to leave. What a waste of money and good food.

Responsible Parent

July 17th, 2011
1:27 am

A restaraunt is a private business. The owner has a right to set whatever rules he wants & to cater to whatever clientell he wants. If his rules offend you go to another establishment. When you teach your brat to behave at Micky-D’s or Chucky Cheeze THEN bring them to a nice restaraunt, not before.

Marinemom

July 17th, 2011
3:25 am

It’s not the child’s fault that it is allowed to act out and be an annoyance to everyone. The parents are to blame. I don’t know why anyone would take a child to an expensive restaurant. But, if they do, they are obligated to keep that child under control. For the parent who said they didn’t want to have to tell their child 10 times to sit down…if you had control of your child, it would only take 1 time. But there is also another annoyance that should be squashed from every restaurant….cell phones. You know the type…talk loud so everyone one can hear the one sided conversation as if we cared. This type of noise is just as bothersome, if not more, than unruly children. No children, no phones. Put your cells on vibrate, go outside to talk and take your unruly child with you.

Queen Neffballteedi

July 17th, 2011
4:19 am

Enter your comments here

Queen Neffballteedi

July 17th, 2011
4:28 am

I was in a restaurant-bar in midtown about 10 years ago and and it was just after midnight. There was a couple with a three small children in the place. One kid was sleeping under the table, another one was crying and the third one was running around place. The parents were s#!t hammered and talking to other tables. I think they were swingers. It was kind of sad actually, getttin they swing on with kids in tow.

jj

July 17th, 2011
4:56 am

I absolutely agree! I for one am sick of having to contend with other people’s children when my husband and I go out for dinner. There are more than enough restaurants, fast food, and take out places that are geared toward children. If you don’t want to be disbursed by them, go there. On the other hand places like Red Lobster, Longhorns, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, and so on are intended for a nice quiet evening out. That does not include rowdy, ill behaved children.
I think more restaurants should be “Adults Only”.

Baltisraul

July 17th, 2011
7:42 am

Cam…..it is hard to celebrate children in public when they do everything to make you wish they were caged and gaged. Parents should also be banned if they can’t control their crumb crushers. And god forbid you tell a parent that their brat is out of control in public.

Grasshopper

July 17th, 2011
9:41 am

Kids!
I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!
Kids!
Who can understand anything they say?
Kids!
They a disobedient, disrespectful oafs!
Noisy, crazy, dirty, lazy, loafers!
While we’re on the subject:
Kids!
You can talk and talk till your face is blue!
Kids!
But they still just do what they want to do!
Why can’t they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
What’s the matter with kids today?
Kids!
I’ve tried to raise him the best I could
Kids! Kids!
Laughing, singing, dancing, grinning, morons!
And while we’re on the subject!
Kids! They are just impossible to control!
Kids! With their awful clothes and their rock an’ roll!
Why can’t they dance like we did
What’s wrong with Sammy Kaye?
What’s the matter with kids today!

Renee

July 17th, 2011
10:19 am

I do not have kids, and would welcome any good restaurant where we would not have to dine with them.

Enfielder

July 17th, 2011
10:33 am

We’re equating McDain’s Restaurant and Golf Center with Restaurant Eugene? Based on the menu and prices, McDain’s falls closer to Ruby Tuesday’s.

A friend of mine owns a restaurant in Connecticut – years ago he banned smoking voluntarily – although worried that business might suffer, it actually increased.

motherjanegoose

July 17th, 2011
3:08 pm

We have lived where smoking has been banned, in restaurants, for years. It is always surprising to visit another part of the country and to be asked, SMOKING OR NON SMOKING. We have forgotten that some places still allow smoking.

Aura

July 17th, 2011
8:22 pm

Waaaaaay too many people who have commented on this story take the “MY kids have NEVER misbehaved in a restaurant” approach, as though that means that nobody else’s kids do, either. Obnoxious children are a terrible problem and I wish more restaurants would institute this policy.

A lot of people also seem to like the “we like to eat with our children so we should be able to take them wherever we want” argument…just because you like to eat with your children doesn’t mean other people do. We made a conscientious decision not to have children ourselves, and the last thing I want, when my husband and I are trying to enjoy a meal together somewhere, is a screaming child five feet away, or one banging on the back of my chair, or throwing food that lands on OUR table. Yes, it has happened, and more than once. I’d be more than happy to never have it happen again.

1164mgc

July 17th, 2011
11:30 pm

I’ve got a kid and we never went out when she was a baby/toddler because she simply could not keep quiet. Now she is well-behaved, but I believe it should be a restaurant’s prerogative if they want to disallow children. Certainly, they’d lose MY business, but then again they’d probably gain somebody else’s. I’d also like to add that I can not STAND to hear or see unruly kids in any situation, even after having my own. But it’s not just kids. Any kind of disruptive behavior is unacceptable to me when I’m dining, and that goes for loud groups of ADULTS seated next to me as well. People yelling down a long table and/or telling jokes/getting drunk, etc. don’t realize that everyone else in the restaurant can hear them too… and don’t want to! Add kids into the mix and it’s a disaster.

Baltisraul

July 18th, 2011
7:18 am

When you tell your children to be quiet in public, is that not the end of the problem? It was when I was growing up. It was when I told any of my 3 daughters NO. When a parent says quiet or NO, you only have to say it once. What is the big deal? Parenting is not easy. But keeping children under control in public is easy.

Sandra

July 18th, 2011
10:16 am

I was at the Cheesecake Factory Friday at Cumberland. Some kid was screaming at the top of its lungs. I asked the waitress where the kid was….in the back somewhere. You’d think the parents would of letf or the management done something. I got a headache listening to it.

Debbie

July 19th, 2011
4:59 pm

Vintage Pizzeria in Chamblee should be modeled around the country – one side of the restaurant is reserved for patrons 18 and over. Every time we go there, no matter if the other side is not crowded with families, we make a beeline for the adult side. We used to have smoking/non-smoking sections. Why can’t we have kid/no-kid sections? While I love the concept, I don’t believe kids should be allowed at white-table restaurants, ever. If you can afford to eat there, you can afford a babysitter. Junior doesn’t have to be attached to you 24/7.

LizR

July 20th, 2011
3:05 pm

I absolutely agree that children who are not well-behaved should not be taken to nicer places. And I wouldn’t take a small toddler most places. I also don’t have a problem with a place banning kids under a certain age. That is their business decision. However, my husband and I take our almost five-year-old to some nicer places and she behaves. We think hard about whether or not it is appropriate, we go early, and we dress up. I used to go to nice places with my parents and never acted up. I loved it. I remember so many servers being astonished that I would order the lobster!