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Question: is it okay to ban kids from certain restaurants (or at certain times)?

Sunday, October 06, 2019

---Originally published in my own blog a couple of years ago, but the question persists because sometimes I just wonder. I copied and pasted most of the original blog here (minus photos and links, of course)---

April 17, 2017

DISCLAIMER: I am not a parent, so I will humbly request that you put your pitchforks & torches away for a few minutes…or at least go sharpen the blades in a quiet corner. Thanks.

I don’t know how I ended up reading or researching on this a couple of weeks ago–I just know it’s an intriguing idea to ban kids from certain establishments or at certain times. And by “kids,” I’m thinking of anybody about age 10 or under…because by 6th grade I’d hope pre-teens would know how to behave in public.

Now I won’t EVER mean ALL restaurants–hell, McDonalds is an obvious kid-friendly place, as is Chuck E. Cheese and similar restaurants. They cater to kids and their families.

And don’t get me started on diners, casual or “coffee-shop” types. I do think they’re meant for families in some respects, but I gotta admit, I wonder about at least having time restrictions.

Seriously, a place that has high chairs and kids food that looks nothing like what adults would order…yeah, they’re more than aware of what kids “like” or will eat without fussing while adults get what they want. Most places like IHOP and Denny’s have hours where they entice families with kids to eat, like between 2 and 6 pm, give or take an hour. It works because there’s more staff, the kids aren’t super tired yet, and everybody can dig in and take their time.

I’ve read about restaurants not allowing kids up to about age 9 or 10 in after 7pm. I think that’s a pretty good policy, because when they’re in elementary school, and it’s a school night, at what time are they getting to bed? And for me, bedtime was impossible on a full stomach.

I’ve been to Starbucks in the middle of the week and there were 7 year old kids there with their parents until about 9pm–sheesh, when’s their bedtime? I think kids eating past 7 p.m. is a bit reckless…and where you eat is important.

I don’t have a problem with “no kids” restaurants, just as I don’t have a problem with kid-friendly restaurants.

But I do have issues with someone trying to make all restaurants be kid-friendly when many were never intended to be.

Certain restaurants are going to be geared toward a certain crowd, like people who want to enjoy themselves AWAY from kids for a while, or bars, or both.

I think certain things have to be taken into account when it comes to restaurants and their decision NOT to have kids in the door:

1. The decor–if there’s lots of expensive stuff on the walls and/or it’s a tiny establishment, the seating is at small tables that are rather intimate, I think it’s a bit ridiculous to go demanding a high chair for the baby that probably takes up as much floor space as the table (never mind lack of room for the “stroller”–some of those things are bigger than Smart cars!)

2. The prices–I don’t date much (okay, ever) but if I went out to a place where you’d expect to drop about $50 and up per person–hell, even $25 and up per person because I’m cheap–and was a nice place with unique food and flavors, I’d be totally pissed off if a family with a bunch of screaming and squirming kiddos came in. Let’s face it–it’s not just the food that people are paying for, it’s the atmosphere, the service, the experience. And if someone’s forking over THAT much money, they SHOULD have a decent, quiet time.

3. The menu–frankly, I don’t understand taking kids to bars (I’ll tell that story another day). Now, restaurants WITH a bar, like a Chili’s or Red Lobster or something, they are usually big enough to have families with kids far away from the alcohol (and thus, from the adults trying to drink and relax who don’t want to hear the kids while they’re trying to mingle). Some places also don’t have the dreaded kid’s menus. Those places either won’t cater to the kid crowd or if they do, they’re willing to make a half-sized portion for a certain amount of money. However, I once heard a woman get irritable because the cook couldn’t (or wouldn’t) make a cheese pizza for her 6-or-7 year old because he only wanted pizza. I don’t remember which restaurant we were at exactly, but it was a MEXICAN restaurant… and they were okay with less spices and smaller sized plates for kiddos (and no, they didn’t have “Mexican Pizza” on the menu). I kept thinking she should’ve left her son with a babysitter and got Little Caesars on the way home, or just got him the cheese enchiladas and said “eat or go hungry.” (And now I wish I’d stuck around to see what the verdict was–hee hee).

I can already hear the “my child is always well-behaved” line, as I’ve heard it before a thousand times. Well, unfortunately, all it takes is one bad day for the kid to be a cranky nut in the wrong place and give the opposite impression (and make other people angry). It sucks that we always seem to remember the negatives more than the positives, but it’s true…and other diners don’t know your kid like you do.

So, should kids of certain ages be banned from restaurants? Not all restaurants, that’s for sure. Some restaurants have certainly benefited from the restriction, and others wouldn’t. Frankly, if the place is catered toward kids and families, then have fun…but at reasonable times of day. Cut-off at 7 pm, if not a bit earlier, is sensible to me.

I think kids need to be allowed to eat out. It’s a great chance for the kid to learn public table manners. If they have good manners at kid-friendly places and then casual dining places, they’ll be more prepared for those higher-end restaurants (so they won’t embarrass their future prom date, maybe?).

But honestly–if a place is pricey, quiet, intimate, doesn’t have a kid’s menu, or high chairs, or changing tables, or has a very prominent and lengthy bar, or no room for the Mighty Strollers…give some poor Millennial a chance to earn some extra cash through babysitting while you enjoy a night out.

Floor's yours...
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I forgot the website, but what really gets me are the restaurants that are clearly NOT kid-friendly, and don't intend to be kid-friendly (no high chairs available, no changing tables in the bathroom, no kid options as far as food goes), but someone comes in with a toddler or small child and demands things for their child. I've seen that a few times. Worse, when you've got a really high-end restaurant without kid-amenities like changing tables in the bathrooms, and the stories of parents changing their kids AT THE DINING TABLE! Yikes, why the hell wouldn't you take them out to the car at least, like other people do, when they're in a place without room for that? If you're with somebody, let them know, take care of the kid, and bring them back.

    Funny enough, when a lot of these "not kid friendly" restaurants are exposed as such and limit kids, they may get more complaints from parents initially, but their business skyrockets thanks to adults wanting a night out without kids.

    As far as well-behaved kiddos and a nice family night out, great. I like that, as long as the parents are paying attention. I used to go to diners to study and work on my research papers or just enjoy stories from the regulars. I'd be there long enough that at least once a day, I'd see a parent order for the kids and themselves, then scroll on the phone the whole time while kids are kicking each other and throwing food. One day, mom didn't even look up when one of the kids threw mashed potatoes and it hit a server. I was leaving so I didn't see what happened next (wish I'd stuck around). Your job as a parent doesn't end when you sit and order, lady. The servers are too busy to be your babysitters.

    Maybe it's the phone thing that really bugs me, but I've also had at my job one parent who sat and waited for someone to be done with their appointment in the waiting room. I learned to grab things off the sign-in sheet shelf and put them away when I saw them come in. As soon as the client went in back, mom would be on her phone while her 4-year old would grab everything off the walls, rip up magazines, and heaven help us if she found a ballpoint pen. I've lost count the number of times we've had to scrub pen marks off the walls, the tables. Ugh. Mom would look up once in a while and just let her keep destroying stuff. What. The. Hell. I'm glad they're not our clients anymore.

    Stuff like that makes me wonder. As far as dining out goes, if there's outdoor seating, then it doesn't matter so much about how much room the mega stoller will take because there's generally more room to maneuver. Outdoor seating can be great, especially if there's a good breeze or good heating on the patio (I've preferred those locations plenty of times, nice to be in the air). Otherwise, to me, if the place was not designed kid friendly, don't make demands that they accommodate. There are hundreds of other places to go that have high chairs and changing tables in the bathrooms and menus that can be simplified for the kid palate. Not every place has to cater, though.
    43 days ago
    Well....maybe move that time after which children are unwelcome until 9pm or even 10pm like the time hotel pools close to kids. Sometimes kids don't have school the next day, are on vacation, etc. Also, different families have different schedules. When my son was young, he did not go to bed early because if he did, he would rarely see his dad who worked, then commuted, six days a week. I was a student at the time so I didn't need to get my son up early so he still got enough sleep.

    And perhaps a no kids rule at really high end supper club type restaurants is appropriate. Kids are already not allowed at clubs and most bars, and rightly so. But I would hate to be limited to eating at "kid friendly" or cheap restaurants. Our whole family, including the children, has been invited to nicer places by friends and family over the years (I'm talking $40.00 to $50.00 dollar meals). And in those restaurants, I saw many families. Even if we had wanted to leave the kids at home, not for the family get togethers but for meeting friends, it would have been hard to do. Like many parents nowadays, I didn't have family nearby to help with the kids when they still needed watching (now they don't as my last two are 10 and 14). And, there were precious few teens or young adults I knew well enough to leave them with. Our communities are different now, with neighbors frequently not knowing each other well and families scattered here and there.

    We don't take our kids to restaurants that are really high end, because I think they would find it boring to quietly talk and sit for two hours, savoring gourmet food. But I would disagree with banning children from these restaurants if they are open during the day. At some point, I feel kids' rights and the rights of parents need to be taken into account. Kids are people too. I have been seated by adults who are quite loud, rude, drunk, laying into the server, etc. Never sat by a drunk kid though.

    I've actually had a few encounters with adults who automatically assumed that a child would be problematic and were quite rude themselves. Once I was on a plane and my six year old bumped the back of someone's seat once, just once, and that person turned around and gave a death glare. There have been similar encounters by people who obviously assume the worst. These made me wonder why, in a culture where we are all trying to become more sensitive to other vulnerable populations such as individuals with disabilities, it is still alright for some adults to be obviously put out that children are present in their space. Who said it was their space anyway?
    44 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/6/2019 10:36:39 PM
    I love Starbucks and GI there to relax with my coffee and don't want to bothered by some little toddler pulling on my leg wanting to be picked up, I go there to relax not babysit your child while you gab on the phone,,
    44 days ago
    Agreed. There's a time and a place for "everyone."
    44 days ago
    I agree, I think there are child appropriate restaurants and places. Late night movies, Dave and Busters, bars, live plays/musicals (that are not geared for children) should not allow children.
    44 days ago
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