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 TODAY.com 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 TODAY.com, “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