What? No Kids in Restaurants?

A Pennsylvania restaurant is banning kids. Smart or silly?

So I was doing a little internet browsing the other day, as I tend to do, and I came across this story about a restaurant in Pennsylvania that has banned children under 6. Yes, banned, as in 2 Live Crew, The DaVinci Code, and Voltaire.

The owner’s reasoning is sound, even I must admit.  Some of his clients have complained about the noise level when kids are present. It is a conundrum, to be sure. How to keep everyone happy?

Well, I have a few opinions and some musings on this, as you might imagine.

Before I had kids, I remember sitting in a Red Lobster with my husband and father-in-law, when a child started shrieking about something nearby.  I rolled my eyes and made a face in the general direction of the disturbance. My father-in-law laughed and said, "Can’t you block that out yet?"

From that quick snippet, I learned that, after some regular exposure to crying children, you may develop a bit of an immunity, in that it just doesn’t register as much any more.  It certainly didn’t register for my father-in-law, 'til my facial aerobics.

I came to find out that he was right. Out and about, I hear kids crying all the time (ALL THE TIME). And after a quick check to make sure the noise isn’t coming from one of mine, I go about my business.

Get to the point, right? In Red Lobster, making faces at toddlers, I never once thought, "Man, why do they even let kids in here?!" Because it’s a restaurant. And kids eat, too.

Do I think children have no place in some restaurants? Yes. Do I think some children have no place in any restaurants? Yeah, that too. 

If you have a kid that you know is going to have some issues in a restaurant, you’re better off taking advantage of the curb side takeout, instead of heading into Applebee’s. It just makes for a less stressful meal for everyone, your kid included.  When Joey and Kimmie are extra tired, or grumpy for some unknown reason, we don’t go out to eat.

If I want to go to some fancy restaurant where I’m going to pay $70 for a steak and glass of wine, no, I am not going to bring my kids. I don’t expect other people to bring their kids to a place like that either. But if someone did, I wouldn’t be upset. 

But, guys, we’re not talking about dinner at Buckingham Palace, here. We’re talking about a casual eatery where you can get shrimp and fries for seven bucks — kinda like Red Lobster, actually.

I wonder what would happen if I took a drive into PA with my kids and tried to have lunch there. "Sorry, ma’am. This one is okay, but the smaller one? She’s got to wait outside."  Ha. Little do they know, Kimmie is the neat one.

Look, I understand, I really do. But the truth is, he’s alienating a lot of people by doing this. Clients who don’t have kids yet, but sure do love that shrimp, will end up having to get their fried crustacean somewhere else when they reproduce.

And when that happens, do you think they’ll come back?  Patrons who have kids at home right now are not going to be waiting with baited breath for their offspring to turn six so they can head on back.  

So what’s the solution? Maybe there isn’t one. But there’s got to be something better than telling parents that they’re "impolite and selfish."

You know, my family likes to eat at one particular restaurant every once in a while. I’ve noticed that when my husband and I are alone, we tend to be seated toward the front of the restaurant, and when we have the kids with us, we get seated more towards the rear. In fact, come to think of it, everyone with children of a certain age is seated toward the rear. 

Maybe there is a solution, after all.

I’ll tell you what, I hope this works out for him, because I hate to see businesses close for silly reasons, especially in this economy. Segregate the kids, post a notice that unruly children will be sold to the circus (Don’t laugh. A coworker and I thought this was a great idea once), or maybe even make a rule that no children are allowed after a certain time in the evening. But don’t alienate your customers by assuming all kids are rude, loud and don’t know how to behave in restaurants.

Next, you'll have to remove all the loud people at the bar, not to mention those annoying people talking on their cell phones, and that little old lady whose hearing aid isn't working right.

gjc July 16, 2011 at 06:51 PM
The restaurant in PA was NOT a casual restaurant. It certainly isn't a restaurant meant for noisy kids.Years ago when smoking was still allowed in a restaurant when asked by the hostess, "Smoking or non-smoking?" my response was always the same. "Non-smoking and non-kids."
marylou July 18, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Parents should not bring infants,toddlers or young children to fine dining restaurants.That's just commone sense.Unfortunately,many people have no common sense,so I believe managers and owners should make rules.Parents who hire a sitter for a rare, child-free dinner out should not have to listen to other people's kids.


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