THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Joshua Ostroff Headshot

Restaurants Should Ban Bad Parents, Not Punish Good Kids

Posted: Updated:
Print

emileOur son, age seven, at Momofuku Daishō.

Long before we had Trump to fight each other about, the Internet went to war over children -- specifically the banning of children from public spaces like restaurants.

The most recent example is Caruso's, an upscale Italian eatery in North Carolina that went viral after kiboshing kids and seeing reservations soar.

The same uproar has also happened over Flynn's in Australia, Treacles in the U.K., McDain's in Pittsburgh, Alinea in Chicago and, very briefly, Lobster Pound and Moore in Cape Breton, N.S.

What really happened was some jerky adults decided to disrupt patrons rather than parent their child.

But here's the thing -- this issue isn't really about bad kids, it's about bad parents. And that's not a good enough reason to ban good kids and good parents.

Not to mention that we'd all be better off if more children were taught, as they are in Europe, how to behave respectfully in social situations like fancy restaurants where it's not all about them.

emileAge five at The Ace.

Now the Toronto Star article about Caruso's says in its subheading that "the final straw came when a little girl refused to turn down the volume on her iPad."

What?!? Sounds outrageous to me, too!

But when you read the actual article, you discover that actually "the final straw was a little girl using an iPad with the volume on high, a device her parents refused to turn down despite repeated requests from the staff."

So what really happened was some jerky adults -- apparently unaware that Nathaniel Baldwin invented headphones way back in 1910 -- decided to disrupt the restaurant patrons rather than parent their child. The little girl had nothing to do with it. She just wanted to watch a show while she waited for her food to arrive.

"Finally, we had to ask them to leave," restaurant manager Yoshi Nunez told the Washington Post about the triggering event. "They were upset, but they didn't seem to care about what the other guests thought. We tried to be nice about the situation, but we're here to take care of customers, and we can't tell a parent how to control their kids."

If you take your kid to regular, non-family restaurants from when they're little they will learn to behave accordingly.

Except you sure can tell a parent to control their kid or leave if their kid is misbehaving, same as you would tell a grown-up to quiet down or leave if they were doing the same.

But if a 20-something couple came in and acted unruly or some seniors sat down and started yelling, they would be dealt with as individual offenders. These incidents wouldn't trigger age-based bans of millennials and boomers.

"Banning children has always been a topic in the industry and every owner says, 'I wish I could do it,'" Nunez also told the Post. And many have, but in every case the real problem is parents, not parenting.

I get the outrage, I do. Nobody wants to go to a restaurant and be disturbed by kids running around or throwing things or yelling. But what about all the kids who aren't being disruptive? Well-behaved kids may not be the exception, they may be the rule and you just didn't notice because they were well behaved.

I say this as the father of a small child with a big taste for oysters, which is a thing they don't tend to serve at "family" restaurants.

emileAge five at Wallflower.

Without access to a regular babysitter and no grandparents in town, we have taken our son out to eat with us since he was a baby. Sometimes trendy restaurants, sometimes bars, sometimes sushi joints and dosa huts, but always ones we would have gone to before we made a small human.

Guess what? If you take your kid to regular, non-family restaurants from when they're little they will learn to behave accordingly, and to eat better food to boot.

But the key is that you have to parent because the first rule of restaurant club is "don't annoy people." So if he ever started to have a meltdown or otherwise act up, we would take him away and get our food to go.

However, that can be mostly avoided by being prepared -- don't take a starving child to a restaurant where they'll have to wait for food. Don't bring them if they've missed a nap or its past their bedtime. Make sure there's food they will eat. And definitely don't forget entertainment, be it a colouring book or an iPhone or tablet (with, yes, headphones).

emileAge four at Wallflower

You have to know your kid and their discipline limits.

We've had many a time where we'd enter a fancy restaurant to eye rolls, and then have people later compliment us on how well behaved our kid was. We appreciate it, but all we did was be respectful of the establishment and our fellow patrons.

Why should our son be punished just because some other kid's parents won't do their job?

For Family Day this year we went to Momofuku Daishō and, yes, he was the only kid there. But he had an amazing Asian fusion meal by chef David Chang that provided some early culinary sophistication, and he didn't disturb anyone because we brought him an activity book to prevent boredom.

Why should our son be punished just because some other kid's parents won't do their job?

No restaurant should put up with bad behaviour -- be it tears and tantrums or drunken buffoonery -- by anyone of any age. That should be the rule.

Cuchara in Houston even writes this down, handing a card to families with etiquette rules (like "no wandering around the restaurant") that they introduced after one unruly child caused $1,500 in damage.

"We have a lot of families that come here and have children that know how to behave," the manager told Eater.com. "It's really intended for the parents, not for the kid."

Global reported that the Roy Public House in Toronto takes a similar approach with a sign that reads: "The Roy is an adult space. Well-behaved children are welcome. Parents and children are asked to respect others and the safety of all."

That's what it boils down to -- respect for others, and if we taught more kids this from an early age by doing things like taking them to nice grown-up places then maybe this wouldn't be an issue at all.

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook

Also on HuffPost:


Close
Canada's Best Restaurants 2016
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide