5@5 - Make your kid more restaurant-friendly
February 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

When crying kids disrupt dinner, who ends up paying the price?

That was the question posed last week, and more than 21,000 readers weighed in saying that restaurants with stated policies about children's unruly behavior would actually entice them to spend money there.

While Firefly executive chef Danny Bortnick has taken steps to make his restaurant more kid-friendly, it is a two-way street - your kids need to act right.

And before you go off thinking Bortnick is some kind of booster seat hater, he is a father - and his restaurant is in the middle of Washington D.C.'s Dupont Circle: a densely populated urban neighborhood often busy with families and young kids.

Five Ways to Make Your Child More Restaurant-Friendly: Danny Bortnick

Disclaimer: My wife sets the tone in this department, and I support. I credit her with sticking to her principles and helping my children form good habits.

1. It all starts at home
Make meals fairly structured and most importantly, routine. Remember: Kids start out as a clean slate, so as parents, it is our responsibility to help them form good habits. Things to employ:

  • Provide a variety on the plate - consistently. Even if it is one baby carrot stick and one apple slice, at least you are teaching them the importance of balanced nutrition.
  • Stay away from foods and drinks high in sugar. Children are highly susceptible to highs and lows both mentally and physically when consuming high-sugar foods. (Ever wonder why they can’t sit still?)
  • Treats and sweets are just that, a treat. Keep them small (a fortune cookie left over from the Chinese food delivery) and offer them as a reward for eating properly.
  • Have them ask to be excused from the table. This sets the tone of who is in charge.

2. Make meal periods interactive
At home they can help set the table, help choose the menu, and/or help prepare the food. This gives them a sense of involvement; they are invested in the meal.

At restaurants, let them choose what they would like to eat and bring a restaurant-appropriate activity (kids are not interested in adult conversation or spying on the couple at the table next to you, but whatever the activity, make sure it won’t be bothersome to neighboring tables).

3. Make dining out sound like a special, rewarding and fun experience
Get them excited about the experience. If it is something to look forward to, they will want to do it again, which will help you with the next tip:

4. Discuss restaurant etiquette BEFOREHAND as it applies to children
Keep the rules simple and easy to remember:

  • "Use our inside voices”
  • “Stay in our seats”
  • “Do not throw food” – keep your expectations low if they are less than three.

If you are looking for more than the above as you are building good habits, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. The rules for home as far as eating your vegetables, etc., may need to evolve into the restaurant rules. After all, dining out with kids can be stressful enough, so you may want to consider lightening your own stress-load. Focus on the behavioral aspect.

Again, use dessert as a reward for good behavior/eating. And be consistent - I cannot stress this enough! Also, be patient. It is going to take time to go from zero to sixty.

5. Call ahead to the restaurant
Find out if they are family-friendly. Do your homework. For me, a kid’s menu is not a requirement. Generally, we can find something that our kids will eat or share. That said, if the restaurant does not welcome children, don’t bother. Know your limitations.

Give the restaurant a heads up that you are bringing children. This gives them a chance to select an appropriate table and perhaps assign a server that has a better disposition for serving families.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Etiquette • Kids in Restaurants • Parenting • Restaurants • Think

soundoff (363 Responses)
  1. GirlsOf3

    My older daughter was a dream to dine out with from the time she was an infant and only once did I need to remove her from the table due to bad behavior. She never once go up and ran around a restaurant, and if she did she would have gone home hungry.

    My now 2.5 year old twins however are another matter – they are incredibly disruptive and going through a food-throwing phase. It is easier to remove them from the table at home (which is sure to spark a temper tantrum) when they misbehave than it is from a restaurant (where we may appear to be skipping out the check to take them out of earshot...).

    So our solution is that we just don't dine out with them – ANYWHERE – until their manners and self-control approve unless we have no other alternative such as when traveling and stuffing them full of snacks in the car until we get to our destination isn't a feasible option. And I always clean up as much as possible (even under the table) before we leave (AND we tip well).

    Its a phase and they don't get away with bad behavior at home so their behavior is improving, but until they mature more and can reliably get through a meal at home without incident, we will not be eating out. I can sympathize with parents who are dealing with an outburst – as long as they are somehow dealing with it – but these parents that ignore their child's behavior or let them run wild up and down the aisles make me crazy.

    March 3, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      I suspect here that twins may well egg each other on. You sound totally responsible and up for doing the right thing. Hopefully soon the twins will learn enough to calm down around a dinner table and you can go back out.

      March 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
  2. Rhea Gray

    Make your self more kid-friendly: 1. Provide, as in most of Europe and other human beings, an appropriate setting for all whose money you wish to collect. Room for wheelchairs, quiet corners for romantic couples, and a kids' corner with coloring table and quiet toys - as they do all over Europe. 2. If you can't stand the part of our population that is under age 21, stay home, or visit/vacation adult-only restaurants and resorts exclusively. Do not attempt to impose your tightly-wrapped, nit-picking personalities on the rest of us.

    April 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • marianney

      That's interesting. Rhea, you seem to be very defensive. We currently have a 21 month old and we take him only to certain restaurants we know are kid friendly. It's less stressful for us and if we want to enjoy a nice kid-free dining experience, we know we can... when we have a babysitter.

      I don't think it's unreasonable AT ALL to ask parents to teach their kids good manners. Too many parents these days do not teach kids manners, they don't teach them to respect others around them and they are basically spoiled, entitled, child-king brats!

      I was not raised this way and I had a perfectly happy childhood and I am now kind and respectful of others around me. I worry greatly for the next generation that grows up because it will be a bunch of whiney, self-absorbed, entitled jerks!

      October 8, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  3. Mini Piccolini

    Such great tips! Thanks!
    Had to share: http://minipiccolini.com/2012/03/its-friday-7/

    March 2, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  4. 7-11 Slurpee preferrably grape

    Slurp-o-lishous is what I'm sayin'.

    March 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  5. TobyK

    This is not that hard, folks.
    1. Bring scratch paper and a pencil for the child. He/she can draw or you could play tic-tac-toe. It keeps the child occupied.
    2. If there's no children's menu, order an appetizer for the child with a side order of veggies and ask the server to bring it out with the adults' entrees.
    3. If the child acts up, take the child immediately outside (to the car, parking lot, vestibule, whatever). Remind the child about using inside voices, etc. End it with if you act up again, we leave. And be prepared to follow up on that.

    This works. By the time our son was 4 we were comfortable taking him to almost any restaurant.

    March 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • 4 Reel

      Good, sage advice. However, that only works if you aren't completely self-involved. Alot of these posters *cough,Angela,cough* don't even know what that means.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  6. Will

    The dining experience that triggered this was about 6 years ago, but:

    If you know your kid does not eat seafood of any kind, don't bring him to a sushi bar and just expect they will be able to accomodate his tastes. Sure they have tomago, umeboshi, cucumber, and avocado, and a meager selection of vegetarian rolls, but there is only so much they can do. What's that? He doesn't like the sushi rice, nori, or inari wrap either? Out of options. Going to go someplace else now? No, of course not, going to stay and continue to whine at the staff for not having a menu your loinfruit could enjoy, all while he loudly proclaims "eeewww, gross!" at what other diners are eating. That's the way to teach your kids how to act and ensure that everyone else in the restaurant hates your guts.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • CN Red

      No kidding, is that for real?

      March 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  7. guitargal

    I don't think it was mentioned in the article, but take your kids/family to restaurants in the late afternoon or early evening! A lot of times the screaming and melt downs are because little kids are up too late. Restaurants are less crowded at this time of day, anyway, and you get your meals much quicker.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  8. desdosh

    I don't normally get involved in debating such issues but found that after reviewing most of the good and/or bad comments I decided to provide what I hope is a helpful and educational primer to those that have a problem dealing with what my wife and I found to be a simple matter. First, both our children were taught manners and etiquette from practically the time they were born (yes they knew the difference between good and bad behavior at a very early age).
    I am not married to Tiger Mom and I am not Tiger Dad, we are simply parents that deal in practicality and logic. Since our daughter first started joining us in fine dining restaurants at 5-6 months of age and her brother following 3 years later we are very, very proud of the fact that NUMBER ONE both of our children were always provided with ancillary activities that kept them busy throughout every meal; not to say they were perfect due to maybe not feeling well on a particular night I can only recall having to leave a fine dining restaurant twice in 20 years due to unacceptable behavior. Maybe we are extremely lucky, I don't think so, what I do think is that it comes from planning and execution to make our children's experience as enjoyable as ours and those sitting around us. Our children definitely raised some eyebrows when entering some restaurants, on the other hand the children over the years discovered that behaving well resulted in a goldrush of rewards from numerous admiring Maître d's, waiters and waitresses (they were liberally comped over the years with treats, desserts, etc. for their behavior). By the age of 11 or 12 our daughter began critiquing her favorite escargot and/or beef bourguignon dishes and to this day neither her or her brother are fast food customers. The downside of this is that our average restaurant bill has increased proportionately through the years.I do disagree that with Chef Bornick to notify the restaurant in advance of bringing children, but agree with his assertion that there is not a need for children's menus. If you don't look forward to dining with your children then you probably need to re-assess your need to partake in fine dining with them; think babysitter. I think that it all comes down to some simple rules in life; education, respect and awareness. Bon Appetit!!!

    February 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • YB

      thank you! While breakfast and lunch are a bit more carefree, dinners in our home are when we practice our manners. Dining out and dinner at home are basically the same. I was raised the same way.

      March 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  9. grahamta

    oops! now=NOT above...

    February 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  10. grahamta

    Sometimes things are not as they seem. I have a special needs kid and we have used the advice above (kid friendly places, kids menu, etc) and I sometimes give our daughter chips or she might take a few shakes from the salt shaker while the meal is coming because it keeps her seated and quiet. It took many "failed" dining experiences just to get her to tolerate pizza places, and it takes a lot of work. And still, even though my daughter is now loud, I get dirty looks from other patrons if she does things like eat chips before the meal, or starts to act up in a minor way and I am trying to handle the situation with "unusual" techniques. I am a peaceful person, but I just want to clock the sanctimommies who give me those disapproving looks.

    February 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Dave Oliva

      You bring your special needs kid to a restaurant knowing she is going to interfere with the meals of other paying customers and then get mad and "want to slap" them when they dare to look at you when your kid starts spazzing out and disruptin their meal? You are the typical self-centered and selfish jerk.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:12 am |
      • Anthony Zarrella

        I don't think grahamta is wrong at all. It sounds like her daughter is relatively well-behaved, and most of the "looks" she gets are from other mothers who think she's a bad parent for allowing chips before the meal, or from patrons (at a *pizza joint* mind you) who can't tolerate even the "minor" disruptions she causes.

        I could be wrong – maybe "minor" to grahamta means her daughter is flinging food and punching other patrons – but I suspect it means a brief (30-60 second) outburst or something. If I'm right, then that's far less annoying than the adult patron with the horse-laugh or the businessman talking loudly on his cellphone.

        March 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • jellybean

      "I just want to clock the sanctimommies." Well guess what grahamta? You reproduced not us so take responsibility for your off spring. There is no reason why the rest of us must accomodate you and your special needs child.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  11. Frank

    I don't like to have d-bags at the bars. STAY OUT OF MY LIFE Michael.

    February 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  12. gene

    Keep the kids at home

    February 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Dolphintam

      my thoughts exactly.If I do not bother anyone else (and I don't), why should other people bother me with their screaming brats? And this goes for restaurants ,swimming pools and airplanes.Either leave the kids at home or take them to special kid-friendly places ONLY.

      March 11, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  13. Michael

    I miss the days of going to a restaurant and not hearing screaming children at every table. How about a grown up friendly restaurant for those of us who don't want to be around children 24-7. Is there any place left sacred for adults. i even have happy hour moms rolling their strollers into the bar for a cocktail with the girls in my local bar. I really have to deal with kids in a bar too? Get Your Children Out of My LIFE!!!!!!!

    February 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Binky42

      Amen!! I can't even go to an R rated movie at 11pm without screaming babies and toddlers running around anymore. It's crazy. What are these "parents" thinking? My husband and I started making a tally of the number of times a movie has been interrupted by babies or toddlers. Right now the score since we started this tally is 8 disrupted movies, and 3 peaceful movies. Not a single one of these was a kids movie (we wouldn't count those because we expect kids in those movies).

      February 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
      • Claudia

        Have you tallied how many times the movie has been disrupted by people texting and talking on their phones? Do you propose to not allow certain races or other demographics to the movies too? So bigoted.

        February 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
        • Binky42

          The movie theater I go to has a zero tolerance policy on cell phones and texting. They throw people out without warning the second they are caught, and the problem hasn't happened in a while. What they need is a zero tolerance baby policy too.

          And how is anything I said bigoted? What does the race or skin color of a person have to do with this? This is about irresponsible parents letting their kids ruin the entertainment of others. Get a clue.

          February 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
        • Guest

          Claudia: I never comment on these posts but I need to for your comment....nothing that person said was 'bigoted'. The issues are completely different..that person wasn't proposing a n y t h i n g close to racial and/or demographic distinction. Its attitudes like yours that perpetuate further division among various groups of people within our society...not everything needs to spiral into a race issue. It was about not allowing disruptive children into theatres, NOT anything similar to separate water fountains or the like. I can't believe you would suggest that. Sorry but geez.

          February 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
        • claudia

          hi claudia

          February 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Frank

      I don't like to have douche nozzles at the bars. STAY OUT OF MY LIFE Michael.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Kirstyloo

      Where do you live? I haven't been an "adult" movie...particularly an R rated movie with a baby or toddler at it. I do see them at the G rated movies, but I do consider that fair game.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
      • DN

        Blinky42 likely lives in an urban area. This is the second larger city I've lived in and in both there are theaters I would not/will not frequent due to experiences of folks bringing babies and toddlers into decidedly NOT kid-friendly films that were showing at or well past bedtime. The crying and whining were bad, but really I would just feel so bad for those kids, considering what crappy parents they seemed to have.

        February 29, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  14. Nicole

    These same rules should apply to the MANY adults who should be asked to leave restaurants. At lease kids have the ability to learn...what's the excuse for the annoying adults I have to endure at many restaurants!

    February 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Fiona

      Yep. I've had to endure drunk diners talking too loudly and with graphic profanity, and even with a couple who were (audibly) getting it on under the table. But the difference is those folks tend to stay in their seats. They aren't climbing over into your booth, running between tables, throwing things. Usually, anyway.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  15. LaBoheme

    Parents cannot win. My husband and I are VERY strict with our children and their behavior. Thus, we are constantly trying to teach them not do be disruptive in public. However, I've been told that I'm a Tiger Mom and I should let them be kids. Conversely, we've also been complimented when my children (5 and 7) have made it through entire 3-course meals at "nicer" restaurants and most other patrons didn't even know they were there. Will my children be tainted as they grow up because we don't let them rule the roost? I think not – we hope they will be respectful, polite, contributing members of society. If that makes me a terrible and tough mother, so be it.

    February 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Binky42

      Don't listen to those "tiger mom" comments. They obviously don't know what a tiger mom really is. You're doing the right thing.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Angie

      I was raised by a "Tiger Mom" and myself have become one as well. My daughter is now almost 7 and she is bothered by what she calls "kids that don't know the rules" and even commented about a young girl throwing a fit one evening in a restaurant. I think her words were..."Wow, she is a mess. Doesn't she know, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit?" There is nothing hard about adults teaching and kids learning good manners. Keep up the good fight!

      February 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Michael

      I really don't think it is appropriate for children to be in certain environments, such as finer dining establishments. #1. there should be a place in every society that is exclusive to adults, where adults can go to be exactly what they are, adults. It is not unreasonable for grown ups to have grown up talk with alcohol in a fitting environment (which is not license to be a rude drunkard), but why should a diner feel censored or uncomfortable simply because you want your kids there. There is booze there. I don't get it. What kind of parent subjects their child to an adult world like alcohol serving eateries? As I said in an earlier post, I see Mom's bringing their kids into bars for a mid noon cocktail with the girls. I actually got shushed at a local bar for being too loud, BECAUSE SOMEONE'S TODDLER WAS SLEEPING!

      Seriously, it is not okay to be forcing your kids on adults. You have a sound argument that there are not enough family friendly oriented establishments in this world, but that does not mean you force an adult one to be something it never was: a place for kids.

      Is nothing sacred anymore?

      February 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
      • Kirstyloo

        I guess I would ask how you define a finer dining restaurant. Alcohol isn't the answer. Applebees, TGIFs, and other mainstream family restaurants serve alcohol. Personally, I do draw a line. That being said, being loud and disruptive at any restaurant (be it by a child or an adult) isn't considerate to other guests. And I'll give children a bit more empathy, if they're at certain restaurants, because they are still in the process of learning better.

        Please keep in mind, that most moms don't take their child to these places. All it takes is a couple to give all moms and children a bad reputation. I do think that there is a middle ground.

        February 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  16. Jenn

    There is nothing worse than dining out, whether casual or upscale, to have screaming, crying kids or unruly ones tearing up the aisles. I have seen too many parents sit and do nothing, thinking this behavior is acceptable just because "they are kids"! It's equivalent to crying babies in the movies; NERVE WRECKING!! Take control of your kids cuz if you don't, I'm going to the manager and I'm going to complain about you.

    February 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Fiona

      "nerve wrecking" made me laugh. It certainly does wreck nerves!

      Some of the parents who preach endlessly (and complain endlessly) about how everyone else needs to accommodate them and their precious progeny are completely incondsiderats of restaurant staff. I had lunch at a casual but upscale restaurant not long ago - a very kid friendly place. Two self-absorbed mommies sat in the booth next to mine, with four little kids. The women ate and fooled with their cell phones while the kids clambered all over the booth and under the table, bothering other diners and making an unholy mess of torn napkins, opened and spilled sugar packets, crushed crackers, and God knows what else. These mommies - models of modern parenting - got up and walked away from that disaster at the end of the meal. They didn't pick up one shred, nor dis they ever correct their brats' behavior. So to all of you posters who chide anyone who suggest control the beasties or leve them at home, maybe the problem lies with you?

      February 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
      • Binky42

        Urg! That reminds me of the time my husband got a potato in his lap that had been thrown from the other side of the booth by an unruly toddler. What did the parents do? Laugh, and claim "isn't he cute?" I think they were actually really embarrassed about it and were trying to cover up by laughing it off. So, what did the kid do in response to their happy laughter and praise? Threw another potato at my husband. Who saw that coming?

        February 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
      • Scorpiosrq

        It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children good table manners and proper etiquette while out in public. If the parents have not taught their children properly and the kids become unruly and sloppy in the restaurant, then it id the manager's job to advise the parents to keep their children in line and clean up the mess, and if not, then to immediately leave the restaurant. Every retaurant is a private place and the management always reserves the right to ask people to leave.

        February 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
      • Karma

        Karma visits the self-absorbed couples that let the kids run amok, scream, and trash the table at a restaurant. They are being served healthy portions of snot and spit with their drinks and meals. We witnessed such an event at one of our regular haunts. After they left, the staff were laughing and openly talking about these two couples and what they would do when they saw them coming. It also took two wait staff ten minutes to clean up the carnage.

        February 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Devika

      I agree. I've been in the same situation where parents – with margaritas, martinis, rum and coke, etc in hand – were busy chatting away and their kids were running rampant through the restaurant. 1 – Why would you take your children with you if you plan on drinking 4+ drinks? 2 – Do you have no consideration for any other patrons? 3 – Have you ever heard of "home training"? If these kids act like that in public, I can only imagine what they would act like in their own homes. My daughter is 7 yrs old now. When we go to a restaurant, she reads her menu, gives me her order or asks if she wants something she's not usually allowed to have, and engages in appropriate conversation with me while we wait for our food. People always tell me that I treat her too much like an adult and have restricted her from being a child. If having a well-mannered child means that I've done something wrong, maybe I should go to one of those drunk parents for lessons.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
      • gotacomment

        Your daughter reminds me of me at that age. Manners were expected and practiced at dinner at home, as were manners and behavior appropriate to a "grownup" restaurant. Behaving properly was how I earned the privilege of being out shopping with my mother or out for a movie or some similar event with both parents. Being in the "grownup" world required grownup manners and I never had any trouble meeting adult expectations. Then again, my parents always planned ahead to make things easier for all of us.

        March 10, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Kirstyloo

      Actually having two drunk adults start a yelling match or a fight is worse. I also am frustrated by loud talkers who think that everyone needs to hear their conversations about...just about anything.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  17. Ieat

    People, you only remember kids who misbehave. It's unfair to those who does when you say "keep them all at home". Parents probably hate it more than you do when the kids misbehave. But it is sometimes unrealistic to keep the children home all day, and for every meal. Sometimes family travels, sometimes the parents are just too tired to eat at home and would like to be served or families are out for some special event (grandmother's birthday maybe?). There is a huge difference among taking an infant, a toddler, a preschool, a kindergardener or elementary school age kid out. If you say ban them all, then it sounds like you still have some growing up to do.

    February 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Dana

      Parents of misbehaving children hate that too? Really? I doubt. Let me give you example: we went to the zoo. Some 4 year old started chasing a peacock with young ones. What did kid's daddy do? He stood where he was and said once, "don't do that honey." the kid did not stop and continued to do that for the next almost 10 minutes wrecking havoc in the area (not to mention some stress to poor peacock mom). Misbehaving kids have bad parents.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
      • Kirstyloo

        Actually, you just made this individual point. While most parents woudl be mortified by a child's poor behavior, you selected one example of the one child whose one parent didn't seem to do much. I'm guessing that this child was the only one at the zoo...or did you forget to mention the dozen or hundreds of other children you met who were well behaved?

        February 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Ieat

      Seriously, you're trying to say parents letting kids running wild at the zoo is a sign that parents don't care that their kids misbehave? Are you going to give me another example with children running wild at the playground is another sign of bad parenting too?

      February 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
      • gotacomment

        A playground is not a zoo. Kids can "run wild" at a playground. At a zoo they are, or can be, tormenting defenseless animals. It's unfortunate an attendant was not around. The kid described and his clearly clueless parent should have been made to leave.

        March 10, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Binky42

      The original article was more focused on babies. While a lot of kids do control themselves in public, babies will always be unpredictable and should never be taken anywhere that isn't kid-friendly.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Scorpiosrq

      You may be right that parents need to get out, etc, etc. However, the parents do not have the right to go into a restaurant with unruly kids who have not been taught good manners and proper etiquette. I owned 11 restaurants in 3 cities until . I retired. I had signs posted at the entrance welcominmg families and children but it stated that the parents had to maintain discipline over the kids or they might be asked to leave immediately. Over the years, I only had a handful of occasions when parents did not abide by the rules and they were immediately escorted to the door. There is never an excuse for impolite and sloppy kids.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • Kirstyloo

        Your post also demonstrates that most children and most adults are able to negotiate restaurant meals. I don't think that your signed impacted patron behavior...it just allowed you to act on poor behavior. People rarely remember the good children...only the one bad that one that was loud a year ago.

        February 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
      • Ieat

        exactly. kids can behave at restaurants. Many commentators here have issues with kids period. Of course I won't deny that there are some parents who do let their kids run wild. Many don't.

        February 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Telecat

      Keep ALL children home until age 18. Then they're adults and if they're disruptive, they can be arrested.

      September 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  18. Jon G

    Mr. Bortnick, your article is written like a one size fits all model. Unfortunately you are wrong. I applaud you for having kids that you can easily mold to be dreams in a restaurant. I assume it is your wife's full time job. We are of the type that we don't take ours. Why? Because one of our kids is a beautiful, sweet, loving and extremely sensitive child. Like OCD for 4 year olds. Nothing you suggest would closely help my child or the estimated 15% that full under the same category. They are extremely particular about everything and their wants and desires change by the minute.

    I am someone who hated being in restaurants with screaming kids. Now I feel bad for those parents but also agree the parents shouldn't have brought their kids with them. Like me, they should have left them at home. Use their quiet voices: hysterical. Stay in your seat: hysterical. A parent finds themselve being louder than the kids themselves trying to enforce these rules.

    You might have wanted to consult with a child psychologist before you drafted your article. But alas, what is done is done.

    February 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Susan

      Jon – it's 2012 not 1950 it is NOT solely the wife's job to be at home with the children and "train" them. Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound.

      We will not leave our child at home. If we want to bring him with us we will and if you don't like it too bad. He's learning to behave but he's not yet two. If he gets unruly one of us will take him outside. It works and each time he gets better and better. If we leave him at home when will he learn? All you small minded people out there must have been spawned because you certainly were never a child. I hate when children are rude and impolite but that goes for the parents and other guests as well. Parents need to teach their children, it is not the restaurant's job. Don't let your kid run around and don't let them rip open all the sugar packets – that's just rude. It's up to the parents to determine if little suzy or tommy is ready to go out to eat at something nicer than McDonalds.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
      • Binky42

        "We will not leave our child at home. If we want to bring him with us we will and if you don't like it too bad"

        Susan – you are the kind of selfish parent this article was written for. Please don't spawn anymore. One entitled brat from your selfish loins is more than enough.

        February 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
      • Scorpiosrq

        Your comments are right on! My response just above named "scorpiosrq" answers it the same way you do. You are right in trying to teach your children "on the spot"..... and when they misbehave, you take them outside for discipline or a talking to! You are responding to poor behavior. For the few bad parents with unruly children, I had thousands more that were polite, patient and quiet in their seats.

        February 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Nicole

      You are a LAZY parent. Your kids behave that way because you let them. Unless your child truly has a disability, man up and teach them how to behave in public rather than avoiding it. You are doing them no good by not taking them out to dinner. What will happen when they are older??? People like you make it horrible for people like me who have to work with your adult children in the adult world...lame!

      February 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  19. Mom of three

    This is solely the fault of the restaurants. Instead of shunning those who bring children, they should reach out, and offer to entertain the kids more, and to speed up the service. Family friendly means more business.

    And for the record, my kids never do act up.

    February 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Sam

      That's for Chucky Cheese, fast food places and casual dining. As for the rest I always avoid children when the waitress heads toward a table with kids nearby. I ask for another table.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
      • Mom of three

        You are obviously a chauvenistic pig and a child hater.

        February 29, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
        • jellybean

          Child hater maybe but not sure about the rest of that. Why does everyone have to accomodate you just because you reproduced?

          February 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
        • Binky42

          So, anyone who doesn't want screaming kids in a nice restaurant is a child hater? Yeah, that sounds logical...

          February 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Summer

      I don't mind kids in restaurants as long as they're well-behaved. Of course they don't belong in nicer places, but a normal family or chain restaurant is fine. I've often remarked to my husband, "Look at that little kid. S/he's so good!" On the flip side, parents who allow their child to run around the restaurant or sit in their chair and scream their heads off should be asked to leave the restaurant. Kids will be kids, but it's up to the parents to respect other diners. It doesn't surprise me that restaurants who have instituted a child-free policy have seen a rise in business. When I have date night with my husband or want to have a drink with the girls, the last thing I want is a kid screaming in my ear or flinging potatoes at my back.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Scorpiosrq

      It is definitely not the fault or the responsibility of the restaurant to teach children how to behave. It is solely that of the parent(s). Furthermore, if the kids cannot be properly controlled by the parents, then and only then should the management require the parents of the unruly kids to all leave the restaurant immediately. People at the adjoining tables should not be required to listen to loud, obnoxious kids who yell, throw things and run up and down between tables sometimes causing undue hardship to servers trying to carry food on large trays. If those parents who have kids not properly behaving believe that they have the right to eat out, then they should start eating at a McDonalds or Burger King until the kids learn to behave and work up to a better level restaurant.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • WaitressGirl

      Mom of three,

      Please enlighten me as to why is it the responsibility of the restaurant to keep your kids entertained? You can't bother to pack some crayons and paper or a book? Restaurant waitstaff has enough to worry about without having to put on a show for your kids. Oh, and before you call me a child hater, I am most certainly not. I love going out to eat with my friends (well behaved) children. I am a waitress at bar (that doesn't generally cater to children) who makes sure to have packs of crayons stowed away for when your kids get bored and drops off packages of crackers when I see that you're too busy sipping on your martini to realize that your hungry kid is getting restless.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Mel

      So how much does real estate cost in the STATE OF DENIAL?

      February 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Will

      It is the fault of Le Bearnardin and the French Laundry for not hiring clowns to keep your kids entertained? Or does "restaurant" only mean Chuckie Cheese and TGI Fridays to you?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Telecat

      No restaurant owes you, that. Your sense of entitlement is showing.

      September 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
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