Baby Surcharges? Child-Free Restaurants?
Dining with kids can be a pleasure when they are well behaved and a hassle when they are not. Especially if you’re one table over.
Did you read about that restaurant in Croydon (near London) that is getting called out for charging two moms £3 each as a “baby surcharge?”
The babies were being held and breast fed – so they were not consuming restaurant food or taking up seats for paying customers. In the end, the restaurant claims it was all a “misunderstanding” and apologized. Blah blah blah.
Seriously? Paying extra for a child is absolutely outrageous, period. In fact, often we’re used to “kids eat free” nights and child menus with cheaper options.
However, what about the idea of child-free restaurants?
This summer a restaurant in Pennsylvania announced that it was banning children under the age of six. I’m totally against that – my 3 year old is just as well behaved in restaurants as my 6-year-old. But if I want a meal without the whining and seat kicking and even worse that goes on with some children, I expect a ban under the age of 12!
In fact, I’m all for it. I see no reason at all that some restaurants shouldn’t be able to declare themselves child-free zones. As a parent, there are times that I want to go out with my entire family – children included. As an adult there are times I want to be in restaurants without my own kids and not have to listen to other children. A restaurant should be free to clearly state its policy and diners should be free to patronize (or not) a particular establishment.
A poll on Msnbc.com shows that most people agree with me. With almost 26,000 votes, over 92% voted that “if it works for the restaurant’s customers” an eatery can ban kids.
As noted in a Today Show article, some people “[advocate] a ‘separate, but equal’ seating policy for families with tots. After all, the irony of hiring a babysitter for date night only to go to a restaurant with screaming children is not lost on discerning mothers. Yet others silently let their patronage do the talking, choosing or avoiding restaurants based on their kid policy. The owner of Olde Salty restaurant in North Carolina, Brenda Armes, explained that her ban on children “has brought in more customers than it has ever kept away.”
I called that restaurant in PA and asked if the ban was still in effect. It is. And, according to the eloquent person who answered the phone, it’s going “fine.”
Some parents, of course, are outraged. Kveller.com noted the following about the unfriendliness towards kids: “If you are going to glare at us with your judgmental stink eye before my child even opens his mouth – you might just get a ketchup-laden french fry thrown in your direction and it may or may not have come from our kid.”
But…that’s not really what we are talking about here, is it? The issue is not how children are greeted and treated at restaurants in general. It’s not even whether your children are well behaved or not. It’s whether it’s OK for certain restaurants to clearly state a “no children” policy.
What do you think?