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May 12, 2008

Of pizzas and restaurants banning children

Why does she do it? Editor Kate knows how territorial I am. First she steals Multimedia Editor Etc. John and his filling station fare story, and now she's writing about pizzas on her mommy blog. Doesn't she know I'm the only one who gets to write about pizza?

I feel another post on children in restaurants coming on. How about this? Carey H kindly sent me a link to a story about a restaurant that has banned children under six. 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:23 PM | | Comments (41)


Dija read the mommy blog? This is a person who thinks that kids running wild in a restaurant is funny!

I think I better let Editor Kate field this one. :-) EL

Hip hip hooray! Children make lousy house pet.

I'm calling for a virtual flash mob to hit the mommy blog. Let's go gang and teach them to mess with our badass blog. CHARGE! On to Acaba!

Maybe you should steal some topics from her, like
Free Range Children? Too Gamey?
MILFs -- Where Do They Dine?

That settles it. I'm moving to Oregon specifically to patronize that restaurant. Well done, I say!

Dear Granny: I think it's funny how exercised folks on this blog get about the idea of having children eat in their presence, which is why I made that little joke. I'm on record about what I consider proper behavior for kids in restaurants, and I really don't condone them "running wild." I like to eat in peace, too. But as long as kids are well-behaved, I don't understand why they have to be excluded.

The problem, Kate, is that most kids are not well-behaved. Neither are most adults, but it is easier to pick on people smaller than you.

Point to Lissa!

Also, kids are prone to be well-behaved one minute and not so the next, like in the middle of the meal. Then what do you do?

I was recently trying to remember the name of a fine restaurant in the Caribbean, and found a posting from a couple complaining that the staff wouldn't let their Little Darling watch a movie on their portable DVD player. Okay I confess I'm so old school I didn't know there were such things, but think about all the people seated nearby who don't want to hear the sound track to The Lion King or whatever LD wants to watch.


Well if you were my parents, you ripped the kids up out of their seat and took them out of the restaurant immediately as not to disturb any other patrons.

(ranting continues...not directed at Dan, but all of today's parents in general.....)

Granted my parents probably missed a few dinners, but guess what.....YOU decided to have kids. Not the other patrons. You wanted them, you get to sacrifice your dinner. And if their too young to be out, I'm sorry again, but you wanted them. Specific reason why I do not have children-I don't want the sacrifices.

I have no problems with kids....until they start affecting my life. I don't have them and don't understand why I have to deal with unruly ones on a daily basis.

As with most things, criminal activity, school performance, etc., a child's behavior is largely a function of the expectations and examples set by their parents, as well as the enforcement of those expectations. I have five kids, ages 15 down to two 6 year olds, and they have dined everywhere from Chili's to Emeril's and the range in between. We've never had anyone say anything to us other than how well behaved they were. The reason so many are complaining is that many parents have allowed their kids to give families dining in good restaurants a bad name. That it has come to a restaurant having to ban children reflects poorly on parenting.

My son acted up on Sunday morning at Breakfast, I told my wife to box up my meal and I would be outside.....wishing my son was older than 3 so I could suplex him onto York Rd....oops, did I type that out loud?....Carey H is right. My wife and I knew we wouldn't be able to eat out a lot, or do other things once we had kids. Our choice, not the other diners....."I wanted ham woman, not Voodoo Pork!"

Carey –

Having raised my own kids the way I was raised, I agree that even if you're in the middle of the most amazing entree you've ever put in your mouth, if you have brought your child and that child misbehaves, they are removed at once. Believe me, it doesn't take more than a time or two for the child to remember what is and is not acceptable in a dinning out situation.

I also once gave my half-filled grocery cart to a clerk and apologized for not putting what I had in there back on the shelves as I removed a 4-year-old who decided to have a temper tantrum in the grocery store.

It got to the point that, if one of us or one of my own children started to act up, the statement that we would be leaving if the behavior did not stop immediately stopped them in their tracks. Then it got to the point that they were proud to be able to go to an adult restaurant and were on their very best behavior.

Somewhere between my kids’ generation and the next one after them, the sense of place as far as acceptable behavior is concerned was lost. Kids now days think that just because they can run and scream at Chuckie Cheese, they can do that anywhere, and even worse, their parents seem to think the same thing.

Rest assured when I have children I will be one of those parents that if my kids act up anywhere they will be removed so others don’t have to put up with them. IMHO, The problem with parents and children today is lack of respect for themselves and others.

These kids nowadays don't know the first thing about being parents. Or perhaps they learned from their own parents. Who learned from their parents ... who learned from Dr. Spock.

I am the oldest of 3 and we were not taken to a restaurant until I was 10. That could have been mostly due to economy (dad worked at a family-owned trucking company, mom was stay-at-home). Nevertheless, we were expected to behave and not act out. Granted, this was the mid-60s, but still ... I agree with Rosebud's assessment that the popularity of Chuck E. Cheese-like establishments has given free reign to children and parents alike. Don't judge me ill: I love kids, but there is a time and a place and more than a modicum of decorum is called for.

PS - I'm loving the fact that Sessa used the term "flash mob" just hours after I did here on D@L.

Carey H -- if you don't want to have to deal with unruly kids on a daily basis, you'd better quit your job at the day care center. ;-)

I agree with the consensus . . . but don't act like you are dining at Charleston when it is the Macaroni Grill. If the place has crayons at the table, you probably shouldn't complain about the kid at the next table -- as long as they are acting like a normal kid.

I'm also very willing to take my child out if misbehavior starts to become an issue. I'm not going to overdo it, of course -- tapping a fork on a table once or twice isn't a sign to end the meal. My daughter just turned three, but she's got the idea that there are things you can do at nursery school that just aren't OK to do in restaurants.

My big gripe comes with adults who don't have the same level of courtesy. I don't want to be at the next table having to listen to you discuss your medical conditions, or the arrogant so-and-so that you work with, or hear you cackle with glee at an entire series of jokes, or cover my ears to keep from being laid low by the way you and your friends keep getting louder and louder as the beer keeps coming.

Children in restaurants is subjective, at best. We were in Overlea Diner on Friday, and there was a family 2 parents and 3 kids aged maybe 3, 5 and 7 seated in the back. The older kids were VERY good, but the youngest seemed to have a short attention span and a need to scream. When he wouldn't eat quietly, Mommy got up and dumped his meal in the trash which, sadly, prompted louder screaming. Daddy took a turn trying to quiet him, but it didn't last long. They didn't leave for several minutes, by which time everyone had stopped eating and was staring at them. So what to do when 80% of the family behaves well but the 20% is so disturbing that no one can eat? "Is a puzzlement!"

These kids nowadays

When Piano Rob was a boy, he had to walk 10 miles to school, uphill both ways.

Scene at a local deli/bakery/breakfast shop a few weeks ago...Dad comes in with two small girls, maybe 3 and 4 or so. He's at the counter trying to order breakfasts and they are running around screaming and banging away. He gives them one warning and when they don't listen, he says "that's it, I told you how you had to behave" and he walks out with them. They sounded brokenhearted, but I bet will remember it the next time.


I think what is accepted as "acting like a normal kid" is where the problem comes in.

In addition, it doesn't matter where I am, with the exception of a kid-oriented place, I want to eat with a certain level of peace, quiet, and respect.

At TGIFriday's we had the pleasure of a 3 year-old visiting our table. Over and over and over. It was late Friday night and my friend and I were having drinks. I tend to talk quite freely (especially when drinking) and trust me, you don't want your 3 year-old repeating what I'm saying. Of course the parents thought it was just adorable that their little one was off making friends while they ate in peace.

On a different occasion, a 6 year-old CRAWLED across the entire restaurant (a microbrewery) on the floor. A child of any age crawling on any floor in public is not acceptable, I don't care if you're in a McDonalds.

HalVoR - I didn't realize you knew my neighborhood so well! ROFL

I think we've hashed over this topic once or twice before but I will say again, that I think it comes down to the parents actions completely. As a child, I would NEVER have ran around a restaurant, yelled or even looked at another patron funny. You sat, perhaps colored, and ate.

I now have a 2 and 3 year old and have only had to leave a restaurant once. As a parent, you need to know your child's tolerance level. If it's Saturday night and there is a 2 hour wait, and the kids didn't get should probably skip it. It's stressful for you and everyone around you. How is that a pleasurable dining experience?

I always come prepared with something for my kids to do besides the provided crayons (if there are any). Something tells me that if children are behaving this way at the dinner table in a restaurant, there are NO rules at the dinner table at home either. At our house, you don't get up from the table until you are finished everything on your plate. (unless you have to go to the bathroom.) Kids need rules and consequences. Period.

Carey H -- like I said, I agree with the consensus about kids needing to behave. My point is that I would never consider taking my kids to certain places, but I can't keep them locked in the basement all of the time either. Well, I guess I could but that is a different blog. So TGIF at 6pm here I come -- and I promise my kids won't sit in your lap.

Sounds to me that it's just a matter of time before the ACLU files an age discrimination law suit against that place.

At our house, you don't get up from the table until you are finished everything on your plate.

In my house you didn't get up until everyone at the table was finished eating. You didn't start a course until all were served and seated (even if the ice cream did melt a little). My father tried to cheat my offering to clear the table: didn't work.

Several years ago, at a family dinner (serve yourself from the take-away in the kitchen) a couple young teenage cousins immediately began shoveling in the food as their little bums hit the chair seats. After several mouthfuls they looked over at me and asked why I wasn't eating. I explained and they somewhat sheepishly put down their forks and waited for the rest to join us.

As a result of such early training, I can eat in any Chuck E Cheese with impunity. I'm pretty good in McArches, too. Of course on those few occasions when I'm invited out and told to 'Oh go ahead and start ...' try as I might, I can't. And no amount of prodding can make me.

And Miss Manners would be so proud. As soon as I'm seated my napkin (or serviette) is immediately in my lap, where it should be. Of course it drives servers in restaurants crazy since most don't seem to know this bit of etiquette and think I don't have a napkin. Oh well.

Carey H brings up an interesting point...WHY is a 3-year-old up "late on a Friday night"? I hate to see tots in restaurants or stores at 8 or 9 PM. It's not the kid's fault he's cranky--he's TIRED! Small children should be in bed by nightfall...period! Sadly, some kids are allowed to have sugar all day and are therefore allowed to stay up til the sugar high wears off. That's SO unfair to children on so many levels.

End of rant...and thanks for your forbearance, y'all.

Word to Anonymous. Way to give pros to the KITH.

Holy fajitas! Kids in restaurants is like raw meat to you guys. Look at all those long paragraphs. Well done terpfan. Cogent. Piano Rob: I think you mean Mr. Spock.

Chuck E Cheese is to blame ... interesting. I iike that. And what the hell is wrong with parents who get their kids Shirley Temples at restaurants? I would be giving them wine like the French do. Knock 'em out. What kind of moron gives kids sugar with extra concentrated red cancer sugar added? That's just nuts. Plus you're teaching your kid to drink cocktails. A little merlot and half an Ambiem. I call that an Amy Winehouse. Get it? See what I did there?

Kids at bars is unforgivable. Yet people do it all time time. I've seen many times where adults are at a table in another room and are sick of dealing with their unruly spawm, so they send them to the bar to watch TV by themselves. First I always say, "I don't drink beer at your pre-school, don't send your kids to my bar." Well, I say it to myself mostly. But if a parent abandons a kid near me, I treat them like an adult. I teach them things like all kids had ponies when I was young. I could stay up until midnight when I was 5. Chocolate is for breakfast. I rode a turtle to school. Coffee makes you grow taller. Just the truth.

While I'm tempted tot teach them new words and concepts, that would be just wrong. But burdening their parents with requests for magic shoes, ponies and Disney World trips ... priceless.

We are the worst flash mob ever. I just checked the mommy blog and only Anti-Pierre showed up. Lame!

Where was that famous sign? "Unattended children will be given coffee and a puppy"--or something along those lines.

I like that but caffeinated puppy is funnier.

You need to go to bed EL. I myself am retiring to the Fortress of Inevitability. Kazaa! Varoom! Screeeeeeeeech!

Hoo boy--now that OMG is back we get varooming and screeching along with Pierre's whooshing. If only this blog came with sound effects!


Generals in OC has a sign that says "Unattended children will be sold". lol

Sound effects...I like that.

Except that the soundtrack for this post would probably be the background screech at Chuck E. Cheese.

If only this blog came with sound effects!

No, no, no! I couldn't sneak a look at work if there were sound effects.

And I don't want to hear Gack! out loud either.

Probably the last thing the Sandbox needs is a soundtrack or smellovision. GACK.

"In my house you didn't get up until everyone at the table was finished eating. "
Rtso--everyone else usually is done by the time these 2 catch up!! :)

CtRam: everyone else usually is done by the time these 2 catch up!!

Too true, but we sat chatting amiable with our hands in our lap - no elbows on the table, imagine.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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