Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg (UIG via Getty Images)

We would hope that once middle-school-aged children are old enough to venture out into their own solo restaurant dining experiences, they are savvy enough to realize that tipping (in the U.S., at least) comes with the territory. But this was apparently not the case at the Iron Horse Pizzeria And Sports Pub in Simsbury, Connecticut, where a frequent lack of gratuities by young diners caused the restaurant to institute a certain policy, as two customers recently discovered.

Like many kids, Dane Peterson and Jacob Howes usually head to downtown Simsbury for a snack after school. After a recent meal at the Iron Horse, they noted that their bill automatically had a 15-percent gratuity added. A line at the bottom of the bill reads, “Customary 15% gratuity may be added for large parties and grade school customers.” WFSB in Hartford reports that Howes responded, “I said aren’t we supposed to factor that in because it kind of threw me off a little bit.” WFSB maintains, “The young people said they aren’t angry about this policy, they just don’t think it’s fair that children are being treated differently when it comes to tipping based solely on their age.”

Even Petersen’s mom says she sees both sides. And restaurant owner Rob Bylykbashi points to a recent afternoon when two out of 12 tables of grade-school diners failed to add a gratuity. But he says he’s considering reviewing the policy; Peterson’s mom suggests possibly making it more prominent than a line on a receipt, so that kids are more aware that an automatic tip will be added.

We’re not as upset with the restaurant as much as we are with cheapskate kids and parents who have apparently failed to teach them the basic etiquette involved in dining out. Servers work hard (just ask our own Salty Waitress), so a 20-percent add-on is a given. Possibly 25. If the kids are not old enough to grasp that concept, they shouldn’t be eating out on their own anyway.

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