As a parent, I expect to get seated in the least desirable parts of the restaurant when I’m out with my family—near the kitchen or bathrooms, away from the windows; this especially happened a lot when my kids were younger. I imagined the servers flipping coins to see who was going to have to take the twins table. I have mopped up more publicly spilled glasses of milk than seems humanly possible, always with a million apologies and an outwardly gracious yet likely inwardly seething member of the restaurant staff helping to clean up the mess. Once, when the twins were still in their toddler food-dropping stage, we pulled their chairs away from the restaurant table at the end of a Sunday brunch and other patrons actually gasped at how much food was on the floor. I tipped about 50 percent and have been too afraid to return to that restaurant ever since.
Hey dummy, the childless among you might be saying, why not just eat at home? In those years, dinner at a restaurant was like a five-star vacation. A meal that I didn’t have to prepare, serve, and clean up after? Surrounded by adult people in fashionable clothes, who would in all probability not throw food at me? Sheer heaven. As a result, hopefully by now my kids are pretty restaurant -savvy, give or take an errant glass of milk.
So I can see both sides of this situation The Independent reports on today, in which Napalese Chef, a curry house in Gloucester, England, routinely hands out a laminated notice to patrons dining with kids:
We request any patrons dining-in with young children to keep noise at a reasonable level and to not let children run around the restaurant. It is dangerous as our staff are often walking around with hot food. Additionally, it is inconsiderate to other diners. In order to look after both our staff and our customers, we reserve the right to refuse service.
Patron Sandeep Amin, who had visited the restaurant many times before, says he was “horrified” to receive the notice as he dined with his 7-year-old daughter to celebrate his birthday. Making matters worse, Amin says, “the waiter kept slamming the notice down in front of him.” While Amin decided to take his birthday party elsewhere, restaurant owner Kashi Sharma “stands by his policy, explaining that the notice was employed after he encountered ‘a few issues in the past.’”
Both sides: Honestly, I think that the language of the notice is pretty reasonable, and intends to protect the safety of both patrons and staff. But as a parent, I would likely take that message better maybe hanging on a wall near the front of the restaurant than delivered specifically to my table. And I would probably wind up taking my children somewhere more kid-friendly (there are many such places, specializing in chicken fingers and chocolate milk and less savory adult cuisine) and save that curry house for a date night. I know from experience that this restaurant would undoubtedly be the place where they would inconveniently spill their next glass of milk.