Kids in Restaurants

We’ve talked about this before, earlier this year, but I’ve seen the discussion pop up recently on two different Seattle Blogs, and it’s still a bit of a contentious issue.

Over on West Seattle Blog, a reader sent in a review of a new restaurant in the area (Ama Ama for those of you in the West Seattle are), and they had this to say:

We went to the “shakedown cruise” of Ama Ama last night. Just wondering if you heard from anyone else who went? It was good – not over the top, but good with potential. The “sliders” will probably become a crowd favorite – mini burgers on a yummy bakery nouveau roll – 2 for $8. Some of the best pomme frites included as well. What was missing: a kid menu.

No! No! A thousand times no! Not all restaurants should be kid friendly, and if an owner makes the business decision to NOT put chicken fingers on a menu, then guess what? The poor little darlings will have to do without.

I’m writing this under the influence of lack of sleep, so forgive the manner in which I state this, but please understand – the world is not your kids playground. There are many things that do not always have to be seen from a child’s viewpoint. Restaurants are one of these things.

But if a restaurant owner decides to make their place kid-friendly? Well that’s their choice. But this doesn’t mean that this is an open invitation to treat a restaurant as your own version of Chucky Cheese. As Dan Savage (yes, this Dan Savage) so eloquently wrote yesterday on the Slog (in response to Smith’s going family friendly):

Just as responsible pit-bull owners—both of them—are angered by the behavior of irresponsible pit-bull owners, responsible parents—the kind of parents that keep their kids under control at all times in restaurants—are angered by parents that bring out-of-control brats into restaurants. My kid is under control in restaurants because his parents don’t want to ruin your meal anymore than his parents want some other parents’ kids to ruin their meal.

To me, a child running around a restaurant, shrieking at the top of their lungs is as annoying as the woman who won’t put out her cigarette. Both of these behaviors interfere with my enjoyment of a meal, and the company I am keeping. Trust me when I say this: Your child is not as precocious as you believe them to be. Bring your kid to the restaurant! Expose them to new and unique experiences! But please, please, please, don’t make the owners meet the demands of your children, and don’t make other patrons deal with your kids behavior problems.

And as a quick side note: the food world would be a better place if we got rid of the concept of “Kid’s Menus”. The world is not well served by having hot dogs and chicken nuggets available to children at all times.

UPDATE: Lest people leave this site feeling as if I’m a heartless cur, I’m not blaming the children in any of this. As a commenter alluded to – kids act like kids. It’s really up to the parent to decide whether or not a child is appropriate for a specific environment. My guess is that most parents would likely think twice about taking the kids out to a place where Martini’s are top selling drink o’ choice.

Conversely, an adult has no room to complain about Chuck E. Cheese, McDonalds or any other restaurant that markets to children. If you’re a childless adult, these places aren’t designed for you. It does play both ways.