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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?
 

Comments

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User
Aug. 23, 2014

No, I don't believe children should be allowed in these restaurants. Teach them table manners at home. Hire a babysitter you said you remove him if he gets fussy, some parents don't and I shouldn't have to listen that anyway if we am out to enjoy myself. You also said many times you are in shifts so you really aren't eating as a family.

User
March 26, 2014

Anyone who takes a child to a high end restaurant is crazy. I go to a high end restaurant to have a nice conversation with my husband without kids. I actually recently stopped going out to restaurants because of screaming children. Recently, I went out to a bar at 8:30pm where people were having drinks and playing pool. When I was trying to take a shot, a child ran into me, my cue almost scratched the table. The mother was in the washroom kids left unattended, running around everywhere. You may think, well this is not my kid, but it happens all the time. There needs to be more adult only places.

User
Feb. 9, 2014

I think the problem comes because most parents THINK their child is well behaved. What is tolerable and well behaved to you, might not be to the rest of the world. I know few parents who say their children are nightmares and have terrible behavior. If I am paying that kind of money for a dinner, the only child I want sitting next to me is one I don't hear from, not the kid who is banging his truck on the table to keep himself occupied while his parents talk to each other. This might sound mean, but it is not my fault you have a guilt complex about going out to dinner without your child. You have no problem dropping them at daycare so you can work 40 hours a week, but you can't hire a sitter for 4 hours on a Saturday evening? I don't have a problem with kids in a middle priced restaurant (Outback Steakhouse, Applebees etc). They are kid friendly and cater to them. Its just the high end ones that I have to work and entire week to be able to pay for that I have the issue with.

User
Feb. 8, 2014

First, I feel bad for the family. I'm sure they would have liked to sit and enjoy their meal. As parents though it's their job first to see to their child and be considerate of other guests in the restaurant. I think if you are taking a child you must know there is a chance you won't actually be able to sit and enjoy an entire meal. I know there are times we've had to leave or tag-team when our kids were younger. It really seems to be a question of whether we think kids should get a pass on behavior, because they are kids, or whether they should be held to certain standards of conduct in some public places. Obviously, nobody would have qualms about an adult causing the same disruptions being asked to leave. I don't believe children ought to behave like adults all the time. They are kids, still learning. For the comfort and enjoyment of other guests certain settings require higher standards of conduct though. That's just the way it is. And being courteous and respectful of those around us is an important skill for everyone. It is the parents' responsibility, if they take children out with them, to ensure their children are not a disruption to those around them, and to remove them if they are. Restaurants need to step in if the parents won't voluntarily attend to a child who is being disruptive.

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