A chef created an uproar when he tweeted asking if parents should be bringing a baby to a high-end restaurant. You can watch the story on the Today show clip above or read the AP summary below.
“CHICAGO — A chef at a high-end restaurant in Chicago has stirred up quite a controversy after sending out a Tweet asking, in short, what he should do when a baby disrupts other diners.”
“Chef and owner of one of the world’s top restaurants, Grant Achatz, sent out the Tweet Saturday night after a couple brought their 8-month-old to his restaurant Alinea.”
“Instead of traditional reservations, Alinea offers a ticketed system, where diners must pay between $210 and $265 up front for the tasting-menu-only dinner (the price does not include tax, tip or beverages). The restaurant does not accept walk-ins,” Today.com’s Tracy Saelinger wrote.”
“The couple said their babysitter cancelled on them at the last minute and they were given no choice but to bring their child to the eatery that charges customers before they enter the door.”
I think it’s important to note: The parents had a babysitter who cancelled on them at the last minute. The parents had already paid more than $210 to hold the reservation for that night. They would have LOST that money had they not gone to the restaurant.
I think most people, even these parents, would agree that under normal circumstances babies should not be in a high-end restaurant. However, if a restaurant is going to charge you more than $200 up front then I think there needs to be some other recourse than the parents just losing a large amount of money if their sitter cancels.
It seems to me that the parents made a good faith effort to have a sitter, and the restaurant could have improved the situation for all their high-paying patrons by offering the parents a rain check.
I think when the hostess saw them walk in with a baby she should have said, can we offer you a rain check until you can get a sitter? Now you can’t force them to take it unless the chef has a policy about no babies, but I bet they would have taken the rain check in a flash. They want to enjoy their night out and their $250 tasting menu. Offering the rain check would have solved both problems: No noisy guest in the dining room and the parents wouldn’t haven’t lost a large sum of money through no fault of their own.
I think the restaurant would be wise to keep a wait list for cancellations who they could call to fill a table if something like that happens. If my hairdresser does it, why couldn’t a restaurant?
I understand the chef doesn’t want to lose money on the table and wants to give his other diners the best possible experience, and I think a rain check and wait list would have solved the problem.
So no, in most cases babies don’t belong in high-end dining rooms, but high-end restaurants need to also be thoughtful of their high-paying patrons – all of them, even the ones with babysitters who flake out.
What do you think: Should the parents have just “eaten” the loss and stay at home? Should they have tried with the baby? Should the restaurant have offered a rain check or maybe a take-out version when they showed up with the baby?