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Should Kids Be Allowed In Nice Restaurants?

Did you hear about the chef who suggested some restaurants not allow kids? Leslie is one of our VPs and had a quick, personal reaction to this controversial topic. Whose side are you on?

When my son, Casey, was two weeks old, my husband and I started taking him to restaurants, including fancy restaurants. He’s now nearly three and a half, and has learned valuable benefits from our nights out.

So when I read of Chef Grant Achatz from one of Chicago’s finest eateries starting the debate of banning children from his restaurant, I had a strong response – to both him and the couple who caused the uproar at his 3-Michelin-starred restaurant Alinea, which costs between $210 and $265 per person for a tasting menu – without drinks! And, they charge this rate when you book the reservation, leaving you to try to sell your seats if you can’t make it.

His tweet:

Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but.. (@Gachatz)

My thoughts:

Those parents should have removed the child. Or, they should have sat at the bar, which can be more boisterous, and drown out noise from a fussy kid. But they should still be allowed to come to the restaurant as a family.

My primary reason for dining “à trois” is that my husband and I both work full-time, and want to spend every meal with our son. But we also enjoy nice meals and want our son to appreciate amazing food. So, we started taking him with us, at a very young age. And no, that doesn’t mean chain restaurants.

Granted, these haven’t been the most romantic meals. There have been nights in which my husband eats his dinner first – while I walk Casey around outside. And then I eat. We’ve also spent the time playing games, and pulling out toys to keep Casey occupied in between hasty bites, rather than talking to each other.

Yes, that has happened. But we’ve also had some lovely nights as a family. When our son was younger, we would choose restaurants, by design that were more active (either due to a happening bar scene or other dynamics) that made it a place where we knew our child's speaking voice (but not a crying voice) would be within the acceptable range and not any louder than the conversations at other tables.

Doing this, we’ve taught Casey the value of great food – and also fantastic table manners. As a three year old, he has a great level of patience and we receive many compliments from our fellow diners on how well behaved he is at the dinner table. On an average night out, he can now sit and have a family conversation, or play with his trains or drawing pad after he eats.

But I strongly feel it’s the parents’ responsibility to make sure that the child is behaving in a way that is appropriate for the restaurant.  It’s no different than an adult stepping out of a restaurant if their phone rings.  People at places like Alinea pay a lot of money to have a fantastic, often romantic, dining experience, and a loud or crying child can ruin it. This couple was brave for trying it with an 8-month old, a difficult age, but they should have figured out a way to take shifts, if he was fussy.

But by all means, people with kids should not be afraid of attending concerts, parties and high-end restaurants with their babies, and kids – and consider it a teaching opportunity for the whole family.

Do you agree? Would you take your baby to a fine dining restaurant? Or, do you think those parents should be asked to leave?

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