Saturday, May 7, 2011

dining etiquette + children part 2: running about

The landscape of a restaurant may resemble a playground to some; pathways amidst tables trace exciting mazes, while overhead danger looms as gargantuan servers weave to and fro carrying plates of hot food and trays of cold drinks.  Even the terrain, littered with past broken glassware (swept up except for the minute shards), the dirt of a hundred feet, and bits of long forgotten food, speaks of a safe and joyful place for children to frolic.

No, wait!  It's dangerous for small people to run unattended through a restaurant, busy or not!  That sounds more like it.  I understand as a young parent you feel the overwhelming joy every time little Susie takes a step, my concern is, that you should realize how badly hurt little Susie could end up with a bowl of scalding soup dropped on her head.  Allowing your, (admittedly adorable) little toddler to waddle their way through the restaurant is not okay.  Children who are slightly older are even more dangerous because they move faster!

You see, the problem is: we can't see them!  When you're carrying a tray filled with drinks or balancing six plates you have what is commonly referred to as a 'blind spot'.  That spot settles exactly at the height of a small child.  Even if the server is deft enough to manoeuvre around the child, it can still result in spillage.  Are you the parent jumping out of your seat to offer to pay for the lost product?  Probably not.

Beyond the danger: one must consider the other guests.  A large number of people who have children spend their money selectively when dining.  They leave the children with Grandma and head out to have a little quiet time to themselves.  Their careful planning is thwarted by other parents allowing unruly children to run in circles around the restaurant - this is unacceptable.

Well behaved children are a rare delight in the restaurant industry.  But for those parents who let their children run rampant, please, the by-ways in a restaurant are not for playing in - keep your child safe and out of harm's way by keeping them in their seats!


  1. Ok, I have now read your 2 posts on children in restaurants, and I have to say something... Firstly, I can tell by the tone of your blog, you clearly do not have children. I can totally admit that at one time in my life BEFORE I had a child, I certainly would have had little patience for little people being out in restaurants. However, after having children, and the majority of us do, my tolerance for children's behaviour has grown, and it does not bother me at all when I am out for dinner and see a little child walking about.
    That being said, I think it's important to differentiate that taking a child to Rundles, The Prune or Bijou would be inappropriate. Clearly, those restaurants are of a calibre that would not be suitable for kids to be in as it could disrupt other patrons while they are out to experience fine dining. BUT, restaurants like Pazzo and Bentley's, for example, are fair game, and these restaurants actually cater to people like me who have kids. I think you are being a bit harsh on people with children. It may be more suitable for you to dine at a higher-end restaurant if you do not want to be bothered by other little humans running about.
    Also, in reference to spilling food on a child in a restaurant (if a server is blind sighted)... have you ever seen this actually happen? I have worked int the service industry for MANY years, served many kids, and never had that problem. It sounds to me like your tolerance level for anything other than the way YOU think things should be is rather low.
    I also believe that by not showing your identity, it is VERY easy to make comments like this without having to take any responsibility for what you say, which is why I am happy to sign my name to this message...
    Carrie Wreford, Mother of Ezra.
    And Happy Mother's Day to me.
    I do hope that one day, you will be lucky enough to have your own children, and your attitude about others will change.
    P.S. I do actually enjoy reading your blog, but on this subject matter, I really had to say my peace.

  2. Hi Carrie,
    Thank-you so much for your response. It's great to have someone take the time to respond so thoughtfully (regardless of whether or not you agree with my post).
    Let me get this out of the way: I enjoy serving well-behaved children, just as I enjoy serving well-behaved adults. I wouldn't be in this industry if I didn't. I also realise that children get restless during a meal and need to get up and move. You are right, some restaurants are more conducive to this than others (I would never dream of bringing a child to Rundles, but wouldn't hesitate to bring him/her to Bentley's).
    Regardless of which establishment children are in, I firmly feel that they should never be allowed to run about. A restaurant is a place of business, and despite the cozy feel many restaurants try to convey, they are potentially quite dangerous places (yes, I have witnessed a server get taken out at the knees, and an unattended child step on broken glass). I'm not saying a child eating at Madelyn's should be tied to a chair or anything, but I do feel that parents should 'encourage' their children to sit while they are at a restaurant for dinner. If it's not possible, there's nothing wrong with a parent taking their child on a walk around the restaurant, even outside for a minute to cool down (heck, if it's the right type of place and not busy, the parent can even ask the server if they can see the kitchen).
    You and Ezra are a delight to serve and definitely not the type of guests I have in mind when making these posts. I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!

    P.S. My not showing my identity (in the case of this post) hasn't at all influenced what I wrote. I openly support what's written in this post both as the chew and in my Peter Parker-esque real life :)

  3. I appreciate your comment Chew... whoever you are. I will keep reading your blog, and will keep dining out in Stratford with my little one.
    So you have served us, eh??? Now I am really curious!
    Thanks again!