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Grant Central Pizza to customers: Take crying kids outside

Should we take the kids to McDonald's instead? PHIL SKINNNER/PSKINNER@AJC.COM

Should we take the kids to McDonald's instead? PHIL SKINNNER/PSKINNER@AJC.COM

Grant Central Pizza and Pasta, a neighborhood pizza joint in Atlanta, recently found itself in the national spotlight after adding an etiquette lesson for parents to its menu. News outlets such as Fox and reported this story — a story about children in restaurants, a topic which often sparks debate.

Here’s what started the “nationwide conversation,” as Grant Central Pizza referred to it on its Facebook page:

Dear all present and future patrons: GCP is proud of its reputation as a family restaurant, a title that we will work to keep. Unfortunately a number of our diners have posted unpleasant experiences because of crying and unsupervised children. To ensure that all diners have an enjoyable lunch or dinner with us we respectfully ask that parents tend to their crying tots outside.

Grant Central Pizza’s co-owner, Donnie Parmer, told, “We’re just trying to have general happiness across the board… We understand that kids will be kids, but we want parents to be parents and have everybody act neighborly at the dining table.’’

This story is one told time and time again with different characters. In fact, last July, Jon Watson reported about a Pennsylvania restaurant’s ban on children under six, which resulted in a great discussion on our blog about children and restaurants.

Parmer identified the issue: parents need to be parents. We parents need to take our children to family-friendly restaurants and then we need to ensure that they are not disruptive to other customers. I agree.

Yet, as a parent, I can also empathize with patrons who try to stretch the minutes their children will cooperate. When my daughter was born (my first), I immediately moved from the “I want to have a nice meal without screaming kids” camp to the “I just want to eat out, too” position.

With an incredibly colicky baby that seemingly cried the better part of every waking moment for her first six months of life, restaurants were out of the question. We lived in Florida with no family nearby and no babysitters. But we did try it once, when she was about four months old. All I wanted for my birthday was a restaurant meal.

We chose our neighborhood Mexican restaurant for our first attempt. We timed it ever so carefully so that she might take her afternoon nap while we ate. We were armed with bottles, toys, sleep sheep — you name it.

How did it go? It was my last restaurant meal for another four months until we moved back to Atlanta, where our families (a.k.a. free babysitters) live. My husband and I took turns walking our screaming little bambino around the parking lot while the other scarfed a few hurried bites.

So, I can empathize with parents who want to grab a meal out. But, in the end, Parmer’s right. Parents need to be parents.

Do you agree?

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

66 comments Add your comment

K's Mom

February 21st, 2012
7:05 pm

Not a whole lot to add, but I am glad to see others who are fed up with the “little darlings” that run the world. My 20 month old is far from perfect, but we have firm rules at home and he has heard no and stop that before. So when we do take him to restaurants he is not shocked to hear an admonishment if he steps out of line. We also try to only go to family friendly spots with him and I know at about one hour he will get restless. If we keep those things in mind our fellow diners generally have a good experience too. If he starts acting poorly, we get our meal to go and remove him so as to not disturb others. We also hire a babysitter once a month or so and go out just the 2 of us!

Walter LIttle

February 21st, 2012
7:41 pm

I guess it’s because I’ve worked around kids – from infants to teens – most of my life, but they don’t bother me near as bad as the adult customers who either insist on talking on their cell phones or have had a little too much to drink and become loud and obnoxious. To me, this is what restaurants need to address.


February 21st, 2012
8:48 pm

Parents, use some sense:

Plan ahead.

Anticipate your kid’s needs and ability to handle dining out.

If they are old enough, go over the “restaurant rules” before each visit:
use inside voices, stay in your seat and don’t run around, say “Please” and “Thank you”.

Take them outside at the first sign of misbehavior.

Be prepared to get your food to go and leave.

Tip well.

That is all.


February 21st, 2012
9:35 pm

Totally agree, we have all seen parents who try to ignore the situation, and some who even let the kids run rampant. They should look to the future { TEENAGE YEARS }, and maybe figure out they BETTER GET CONTROL NOW !<, and that starts AT HOME!!!!!


February 22nd, 2012
8:57 am

Reading these comments I can’t help but laugh. If you want to know why kids misbehave more now than they did 30 years ago it’s simple. We aren’t allowed to punish them in public!! I have three kids that do go to restaurants, oh and I do have a drink at said restaurants by the way. My kids have grown up eating out with us and know proper table manners, I’ve never had to leave because my kids were acting out because they know the consequences. Seriously though I sat my child down in “time out” at a carnival once and looked the other wa,y while my friend was watching her to make sure nothing happened, and a police officer came and reprimanded me for it. Out society has gone so far to one side it’s not even funny. And God forbid you swat their butt for anything, you might as well turn yourself in to the police now…


February 22nd, 2012
8:58 am

I agree with the parents have to be parents. I have had to leave several times with mine crying. Just so the other customers could enjoy their meal. But this also leads into another concern that I find as a paying customer should not have to tolerate. People talking on their cell phones.This is a resturant where I come to have a nice meal. To enjoy the company of my spouse or family. Not to listen to other peoples conversation while they are talking on their cell phones. The calls very in what you may hear, pleasent, rude,nasty, loud etc. This is just as offensive as screaming kids. I feel not only kids that are upset need to be removed but so should the people who feel they need to talk on cell phones while others are trying to have a nice dinner.

Raisin Toast Fanatic

February 22nd, 2012
10:29 am

I would rather eat around children than the likes of all of you

Comment FAIL


February 22nd, 2012
11:20 am

Three words: Take out takeout.

Edmond J. O'Neill

February 22nd, 2012
12:30 pm

“Parents” who object to this are just part of the narcissistic “it’s all about me” mentality. As soon as their kid(s) is (are) ready for Kindergarten until their first job they will be the “helicopter” parents, and pageant moms we see on reality TV and the media. Ugggh. Take your little basturds to Chuck-E-Cheese, and leave us dine in peace. Oh, and I’m a parent.

Mar -Atl Foodie

February 22nd, 2012
1:05 pm

I love the comments from Sander, and Realmama is spot on.
I do think the manager should be the one to tell the clueless parents that their children’s behavior is not acceptable and not the patron. The parents can get ugly, but the other patrons will cheer when the child is brought under control.


February 22nd, 2012
1:15 pm

If you can’t afford a sitter, swap off with neighbors with similarly-aged kids – you look after theirs while they go out, they look after yours when you go out. This worked very well for us when ours were little. Otherwise, agree with the majority of posters here. If baby cries or kid acts up, remove from restaurant (or wherever you are – church, etc.). We’ve all had to do it.

Jackson Pie

February 22nd, 2012
3:11 pm

How ironically hip your FAIL statement is Raisin Toast


February 22nd, 2012
5:51 pm


February 24th, 2012
6:59 am

Love how the comments started out with “Oh boy”!

hogmtndawg makes a very good point. We stopped going to a Mexican restaurant in Northlake because there were large parties of margarita-swilling adults – on three occasions!- that were perfectly content to relax at the table while their mixed gang of kids seemed to have tired of waiting at the table and decided to take their energy out to the parking lot. 10 unsupervised kids running around while I’m trying to park is a good indication that I do not want to dine at this establishment! No more. If restaurants are too afraid to speak up and not take a stand, diners will and they will dine elsewhere.


February 24th, 2012
2:33 pm

My only question is this: How is the service?
I recently went to a restaurant with my kids and was ignored by the waitstaff for 20 minutes. Young children have internal timers. If required to stay in one place for too long, especially in the evening when they start getting tired, they go off.
If the restaurant staff is doing everything they can to serve everyone promptly, go ahead and have your kid policy. If the staff is dogging it and kids are freaking out all over the place, I have no sympathy for the restaurant or the stupid people that keep going there.

Bob from Accounttemps

February 25th, 2012
12:34 pm

It sickens me when parents let their kids run around (literally, sometimes) so they can carry on an adult conversation. We raised 2 kids who dined with us all the time – if they fussed, we paid attention to them. If they cried, we removed them. We NEVER permitted electronics or DVD players and even today, with teens, prohibit texting or electronics at mealtime. Meals are time together. So many people today lack simple courtesy and respect for others. I agree 100%.