Kids banned by Restaurants

I was happily sitting at a Chicago McDonalds a few mornings ago drinking a cup of coffee, munching on a sausage biscuit and reading your blogs when a family with a small child sat down in a nearby booth. About every 5 minutes my morning silence broke as the young child screamed. Sigh. I say all that to introduce a Time magazine online article titled Should More Restaurants Ban Kids?. Here are a few thoughts from the piece:
You probably haven't been worrying much lately about the seating policies of McDain's restaurant in Monroeville, Pa. You probably don't even know that McDain's exists. Or Monroeville, for that matter. But when the casual-dining eatery announced earlier this month that kids under 6 wouldn't be served, every media outlet in the U.S. spread the news, including this one. It's not that anybody cares about McDain's or its stuffed flounder ($18.95) or beer-battered chicken ($12.95). It's that the question of whether small children should be allowed in restaurants cuts through one of the biggest unspoken divides in American life: the one between parents and nonparents.
In fact, almost all of the chefs and servers I talked to — even the ones who have small kids themselves — told me they hate having kids in restaurants. The reasons are obvious. "We all used to dread seeing parents bring kids in," one longtime server at a celebrated San Franciscorestaurant told me. "You knew they were going to make a huge mess, that the table and floor was going to be a disaster area, that the ticket [check] would be lower, meaning less of a tip, and that the parents were going to be constantly on us for food right away."
Restaurant owners feel the same way. Christian Pappanicholas, of New York City's Resto, is a parent of young kids, and says, "I think parents need to use some strong discretion about when and where they take their kids. Especially if the kids are prone to misbehave — and if you say your kids are angels, that they never get up and run around, never throw French fries, never talk loud, never spill Cheerios, you're lying."
When my kids were small I generally took them to restaurants that catered to families. Cannot remember a time when we took them to restaurants that cater mainly to adults. So I think that I support the idea that parents should show discretion about where they bring there small children. Of course that would not have helped me out the other morning.

What do you think about some restaurants banning small children from their places?


  1. I think it's a reflection on the parents. We took our kids to restaurants when they were young and we taught them how to behave. I only recall one incident where one of our kids was really unruly.

    My opinion is parents should be responsible enough to discipline their children. And, if they are getting out of hand to remove them from the situation, respecting the other diners. I do not approve of restaurants banning all children under a certain age and would probably boycott such a restaurant.

  2. I am happy to hear that a restaurant is able to make its own decisions that may or may not affect its business. I think they should be allowed to do the same thing for smoking. I personally hate smoking and wouldn't go into a restaurant if I knew I had a non-smoking option. The same should be said for kids, or teens, or where does the distinction end. In the end, the market will determine the success of their decision.

  3. I think so many parents are afraid to discipline their own children and the child seems to call the shots.
    Every kid has an occasional meltdown but take the kids to family oriented restaurants and if they misbehave, remove them...leave. Some kids need to know their parents mean business.
    If a restaurant bans kids though, I probably wouldn't go there. Probably too hoity toity for my budget anyway.

  4. Hi Bob,

    I really like Brian's approach. Teaching kids how to behave in a restaurant (and society in general) setting is a good thing. However allowing said children run around unrestrained, scream like little banshees, and kick the back of their booths repeatedly is definitely not. In such cases, I think the management is well within their rights to ask that family to leave.

    BTW, I would like to see a ban on cell phone usage in restaurants. I go to restaurants to enjoy a meal and engage my husband or friend in pleasant conversation. I do not go to listen to loud mouth diners discussing business, the ex-spouse's bad habits, politics, or other unpleasant topics with people who aren't even there. The only people who should have a cell on in a restaurant is a doctor or other emergency services people, like EMTs.


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